The real convention?
Republicans will be showcasing their "compassionate conservatism" at next week's convention in Manhattan by featuring moderates like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in key speaking roles. But this week, true-blue conservatives are getting together in Gotham City to flex their own ideological muscles and exert their own influence on the GOP. The supersecret Council for National Policy, founded at the onset of the Reagan era, will be meeting in New York at an undisclosed location in hopes of avoiding protesters. The thousand member group includes political heavyweights like John Ashcroft, Bill Frist, and Tom Delay, religious leaders from Pat Robertson to James Dobson, media moguls like Steve Forbes, and conservative billionaires Howard Ahmanson and Nelson Bunker Hunt. Conservative Republicans boast that the council's meeting is the "real" convention. "It's the old smoke-filled room, but I wouldn't say it's corrupt," says a source. "Rather it's just where the work gets done." The group met in San Diego earlier this year and will meet again soon after the November election. One issue sure to be debated is whether a legitimate democracy is achievable in Iraq; some on the right believe that part of the Bush administration's rationale for war was flawed. Suzi Parker
Bush twins join the fray
President Bush's twin daughters aren't going to stand around while the Kerry kids go to bat for their dad. Just this week, Jenna and Barbara took a huge step, writing a cute, loving letter about their dad to supporters in their latest effort to help President Bush win a second term. Unlike in 2000, when Bush protected his daughters from the media glare, the two seem to be right in the middle of it this timeand apparently liking it. They've hit the trail with their dad and next week they plan to host a party at the Republican National Convention. So far, the Kerry kids have been seen far more than Jenna and Barbara, and the Kerry campaign has worked to portray the Kerry daughters as smart, outgoing, and proper. The Bush twins haven't been so lucky, with the press playing up their college antics. But the Bush campaign is trying to change that image and the E-mail letter does a lot to help, say the Republican strategists and congressional GOP leadership communications officials. In the letter, the twins talk about the qualities of their father that they like as well as revealing some embarrassing moments. "Dad has qualities that are needed in a good presidentloyalty, humor (embarrassing as it sometimes may be), compassion, and, most importantly, integrity," they wrote. "He makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable in our house, except for the occasional boyfriend, and our friends got to know him as a really good guy."
Read the E-mail letter
Bush's anti-Clinton campaign strategy
Ann Lewis, national chair of the Women's Vote Center of the Democratic National Committee, has a theory on the Bush White House's campaign strategy. And, reports our Suzi Parker, it's the opposite of the Clinton-Gore reelection strategy in 1996 Lewis was deputy campaign manager. She says that the GOP plan is to put President Bush on the campaign trail because he's a better candidate than leader. Making him look like a candidate is easier than making him look presidential, she says. "They have nothing to go on strength-wise," she claims, adding that the prez is good on the trail. By comparison, Lewis says that in 1996 she wanted Bill Clinton to be seen in the White House and looking presidential while promoting his record. She added that the Democratic National Committee expects the positive Bush appearances to be offset by an increasingly negative TV campaign like the ad just out this week hitting Sen. John Kerry's failure to appear at many Senate Intelligence Committee meetings. But, she said, the race won't break open before Election Day. "This is an inch-by-inch, yard-by-yard, grow your voters campaign," Lewis says.
The DNC's Women's Vote Center
See the new Bush ad on Kerry
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