With all eyes on W, his aides stay mum

PHILADELPHIA: Only days before George W. Bush was to deliver his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the campaign remained tight-lipped about how the candidate would handle the white-hot political spotlight.

PHILADELPHIA: Only days before George W. Bush was to deliver his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the campaign remained tight-lipped about how the candidate would handle the white-hot political spotlight.

PHILADELPHIA: Only days before George W. Bush was to deliver his

acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the campaign

remained tight-lipped about how the candidate would handle the white-hot

political spotlight.



Mike Gerson, the writer who political observers believe penned the lines

for Bush’s big night, went out of his way to avoid attention, denying

requests for an interview about his role in developing Bush’s

message.



Still, this much is all but assured: when Bush steps up to the podium in

Philadelphia, it will be the most important moment in his political

career.



’The American people will be watching to see what George W. Bush will do

in the White House,’ said Edelman/DC SVP Steven Akey, a Gore backer.



Added Marshall Wittman, director of congressional relations for the

Heritage Foundation, ’I would suspect that ’compassionate conservatism’

will be the core of the speech.’



This strategy makes sense, according to Democratic pollster Brad

Bannon.



’Those themes take the edge off issues like education and Social

Security that help the Democratic candidate,’ he explained.



Given that they shape messages as well as words, speechwriters have

often been billed as the hidden PR weapon in many political campaigns.

Gerson, who has penned speeches for former senator Dan Coats, Jack Kemp

and Bush, is considered one of the most innovative and PR-savvy writers

around.



’All three (politicians) have tried to be a different kind of

Republican,’ Wittman said. Coats has been given credit for advancing an

embryonic form of ’compassionate conservatism’ by addressing the

importance of faith-based institutions in dealing with social problems.

Bush became a booster of such groups during his stint as Texas governor

and will probably reiterate this interest in his acceptance speech.



Chriss Winston, who managed speechwriting for Bush’s father, thinks the

acceptance speech will be even more important this year given the lack

of network coverage. ’The focus will be on that speech,’ he said.



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