PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 1 -- The second day of the Republican convention revolved around the theme of military strength, but for most of the day all eyes were trained on the thousands of police and protesters who drew battle lines across the city's downtown streets.
The protesters, representing a slew of causes but organized under the banner of the R2K Network, took to the streets Tuesday in a coordinated effort to shut key downtown intersections at rush hour. With the convention in recess for the daylight hours, delegates were scattered at dozens of downtown receptions, and protesters hoped the gridlock would keep them from returning to the convention hall in time for the 7:45 p.m. opening bell.
The protesters achieved the gridlock, as police had to drag away and arrest the demonstrators one by one. Several of the city's main thoroughfares were impassable.
But the delegates still made it to the hall, and by 8 p.m., the gridlock outside was forgotten, replaced by gridlock on the packed and steamy convention floor.
With a general ban on Clinton bashing from the podium, some of the delegations turned the rolling roll call into a chance to tweak the first family.
Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns rose to deliver his state's 30 votes to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and received a rousing cheer when he reminded the crowd that his state is the only one in the union that Bill Clinton has never visited since being elected president. "It's become a badge of honor," Johanns told UPI later.
But the biggest cheer of the early going was reserved for New York delegation chairman William Powers, who said his state is "home of the future senator from New York, Rick Lazio."
Waves of cheers disrupted the convention from more than a minute for the man who is running against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for on of New York's U.S. Senate seats.
Before settling down to the meaty policy speeches on foreign policy offered by Elizabeth Dole, John McCain and Bush foreign policy adviser Condoleeza Rice, the conventioneers waxed nostalgic with stirring tributes to the veterans of World War II and the three living past Republican presidents.
In brief videos shown on large screens around the convention hall, Gerald Ford was praised for "restoring much needed dignity and honor to the White House;" Ronald Reagan was credited with "setting the stage for the end of the Cold War;" and George Bush was said to have "led the American people out from the long shadow of Vietnam" by waging the Gulf War.
And in a nice double entendre, the video stated that "George Bush knows what it takes to be president of the United States." Presumably that meant both father and son.
That the family theme should not be lost, as the cheers for her husband subsided, Barbara Bush appeared on stage to introduce her son, who for the second night running addressed the delegates by satellite feed from the convention trail.
Gov. Bush offered a sliver of an early acceptance speech before introducing Rice, saying he wanted to be president of not just Republicans and not just Democrats, but president of all the people. He then kicked off the evening's foreign policy discussion by warning that "morale in the military is dangerously low. As president, I will rebuild America's military."NEWLN: