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Republicans play values card

By CLARK McKINLEY

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 12 -- Republicans played the 'values' card at their national convention Monday night, showcasing a football player, war heroes and volunteers engaged in the fight against crime, AIDS, drugs, joblessness and other social ills. Hoping to capture a prime-time television audience with 'Main Street' interviews beyond the San Diego Convention Center, delegates watched videos featuring the likes of pro football quarterback Steve Young speaking from the San Francisco 49ers training camp at Rocklin, Calif. Young interviewed some of the children gathered around him, then observed that they had some big plans. 'Those are powerful hopes and dreams,' he said. 'The only way we can make those dreams come true for those kids is to spend time with them...show them the difference between right and wrong.' Inside the convention hall, Mary Fisher, the HIV-infected mother of two who wowed audiences at the 1992 GOP convention with her appeal for attention and compassion for AIDS vicitms, repeated that appeal Monday night. Holding Hydeia Broadbent, a young black AIDS victim, Fisher said fighting AIDS was not a political question. 'It's a human question,' she said. 'It demands a moral response. We will all be judged not through the eyes of politics but through the eyes of children.' Sand Diego Mayor Susan Golding, herself a former holdup victim, spoke of community action to fight crime, and how residents had worked with law enforcement to reduce crime by 30 percent in three years. In another brief speech, Texas Gov. George W. Bush hammered at the need for parents to teach values at home.

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His wife, Laura, a former reading teacher, talked about a program enlisting retirees to tutor disadvantatged children. Besides other volunteers in anti-drug and jobless programs, reminiscent of former President George Bush's 'thousand points of light,' there were war heroes. Scott O'Grady, the U.S. Air Force captain who was shot down on a NATO flight over war-torn Bosnia last year, spoke of the need to 'honor the law, (and) to treat other people with fairness.' Retired Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the Republican campaign theme of job creation by encouraging individual initiative. 'My parents came here as immigrants over 70 years ago,' he said. 'They found work that enabled them to raise a family, a decent wage that brought sustenance, and more important than that, brought dignity into our home...a value system founded on a clear understanding (of)... right and wrong, and a belief in the Almighty.' Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a retired Navy pilot and Vietnam War prisoner of war for 5 1/2 years, used his own story to build a bridge to presumptive GOP nominee Bob Dole, who was critically wounded in World War II. 'When parents ask me where are today's heroes, I tell them to look at Bob Dole,' he said. 'Bob learned that hard work, honest dealing and concern for others are the mark of a good American. The courage and determination he brought to his recovery are the stuff that legends are made of.' McCain said Dole would keep his word, unlike what he said were the empty slogans of President Clinton's 'New Covenant' of the 1992 campaign. Haley Barbour, the party's National Committee chairman, made it clear that the values theme was aimed at Clinton, whom Republicans criticize for 'faking right and playing left.' 'Even the best chamelon has his limits,' he said. 'In the next few days, we're going to put this chameleon in Scotch plaid and watch him sweat.'

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