HOUSTON -- President Bush's name was placed in nomination for a second term Wednesday just moments after first lady Barbara Bush told the Republican National Convention it had made a 'superb choice.'
The nomination of Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle to carry forth the party banner again came during a night that saw the president make a surprise visit to the convention hall to join his family on stage.
'See you all tomoroww,' Bush said to the cheering crowd, referring to his acceptance which he will give Thursday night.
It is that speech that many say will define Bush's fall campaign as he tries to close the gap with Democratic nominee Bill Clinton, who held a double-digit lead going into the GOP gathering.
The popular highlight of the night was an address by Mrs. Bush, who spoke in a folksy manner of her family in a night devoted to 'family values' and told parents who were making sacrifices for their children: 'You are doing the right thing and God bless you for it.'
To end her speech she noted that the convention was about to nominate her husband again.
'With all my heart I say, and I know him best, you have made a superb choice,' she said.
She then called out all her children and grandchildren -- including George P. Bush who told the convention, 'The family is what makes my grandfather tick' -- onto the stage.
Then mirroring Clinton's arrival in Madison Square Garden the night of his nomination, Bush appeared briefly on the stage to the cheers and yells of the crowd.
In nominating Bush for his second term, Labor Secretary Lynn Martin paraphrased the question that Ronald Reagan asked about Jimmy Carter 12 years ago and the Democrats at their New York convention implied should be asked about Bush: 'Is America better off today than she was four years ago?'
Her answer was 'of course we are' and she said the reason was George Bush.
'Inside George Bush is the heart of an 18-year-old fighter pilot who risked his life for his country, who did not run from his responsibilities then and does not now,' she said. 'You can't be one kind of man and an other kind of president.'
She portrayed the Democrats as 'whimpering naysayers' who would make America second class and called Bush a 'fighter -- with mind, heart an soul devoted to this glorious experiment, this human kaleidoscope, theis halcyon place, this America.'
In addition to the night's business of renominating their team, the Republicans set aside most of the time to present to America theirvision of 'family values' apart from what they said was the liberal and government-supported life style of the Democrats.
From television evangelist Pat Robertson to Marilyn Quayle, the wife of the vice president, the speakers espoused the home as the place where values were learned.
Mrs. Quayle, a lawyer and mother, presented herself as a contrast to Clinton's lawyer-wife Hillary, who also grew up at the same baby boomer time.
Without mentioning names, Mrs. Quayle said not everyone who grew up in the '60s demonstrated, took drugs or 'dodged the draft.' She also they did not all believe 'the grandiose promises of the liberation movements.'
'When Dan married me, he married a budding lawyer,' she said. 'He wanted a partner -- and he has one. Political liberals hold no monopoly on respecting women's abilities.'
In one of the more touching moments of the night, Mary Fisher, who tested positively for HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, gave a 'plea for awareness' of the deadly disease.
Earlier in the day, Bush gave a hint of what might be coming in his acceptance speech Thursday when he told a fund-raising luncheon in his and Quayle's honor:
'This election is not just about change because change has its flip side and that is called trust. When you get right down to it the election is going to be like every other. When you pull that curtain closed and cast your vote on Nov. 3, trust matters.
'The American people are going to say, 'I trust President George Bush because he has made the tough decisions and he has conducted himself with honor and deceny in that office,'' Bush said.
Bush entered the convention down 15 to 20 percentage points in the polls looking for a big boost similar to the one Clinton got after his party's gathering in New York last month.
A Houston Chronicle poll taken Monday night showed the boom had not happened yet with 52 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for Clinton if the election were held today and only 36 percent saying they would pick Bush.
Still the poll showed Bush's favorable rating had improved from 37 to 44 percent from a weekend poll and his unfavorable rating dropped from 53 percent to 49. The poll of about 500 people, with a error rate of 5 percent, showed Clinton staying the same.
The White House also was trying to qualify Bush's statements Tuesday that if re-elected to a second term there would 'plenty of new faces' around the administration by saying that the president was not referring to any individual.
In a written statement, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Wednesday Bush 'believes his Cabinet is doing an excellent job' and meant that it would be a 'normal situation historically' if there are changes in a second term.
The president apparently was particularly miffed at speculation that housing secretary Jack Kemp, who adderessed the convention Tuesday night, would be among those dropped from a new Cabinet.
Fitzwater said Bush called Kemp 'to congratulate him on his speech at the convention and to express his concern about Jack being singled out' in media reports as one of those who would be leaving the Cabinet.
The White House also seemed to be making an attempt to keep some of the spotlight on Quayle by nominating him on the same night as Bush and honoring him at the same luncheon.
'I'm proud to have him by my side in the days ahead,' Bush told the luncheon.