As the Republican National Convention nears its final measure tonight, three Boone County delegates are hoping President George W. Bush will strike a particular chord in his speech accepting the party’s nomination.
The local delegates say the president must convince voters that the United States is more secure and prosperous under his leadership.
“I’m looking forward to the president spreading his vision for a safer tomorrow, a more hopeful America,” said Denna Huett, a Columbia resident and 9th Congressional District delegate to the convention.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Americans are more concerned with safety than any other issue, Huett said.
“If he can get across the message that he is the one with the right plan to keep us safe and build a safer world, then one day — hopefully in our lifetimes — terrorism will be something in the history books, not something we have to face on a daily basis,” she said.
Neither Huett nor Brad Barondeau of Ashland, another Boone County delegate, had heard Bush’s comments about the war on terror this week. In a Monday interview on NBC’s “Today Show”, the president said the war could not be won. He reversed his statement Tuesday, telling the annual convention of the American Legion that victory in the war is possible.
Huett and Barondeau said they have not watched television news nor read newspapers during their time at the convention.
Sherri Shumard, an at large alternate delegate from Columbia, said she heard the story Wednesday on Fox News. She did not believe the president contradicted himself but said he must clarify tonight the kind of war the United States is fighting.
“I think maybe he was misunderstood, that he may not have expressed himself in the way that he wanted,” said Shumard, president of the Boone County Republican Women’s Club. “I think the president meant it’s not the kind of war where you can take your army and pit it against another army and win it. You have to go in and take over places where there are terrorist cells.”
Barondeau does not think anti-war voters will be swayed by Bush’s prime time speech.
“They will always be in opposition,” he said. “If they’re against the war, then they need to vote for the anti-war candidate for president, who is Ralph Nader.”
Undecided voters may be influenced by the president’s comments on the economy tonight, Barondeau said.
“When it comes to economics, pocket book issues, do you feel like the government knows best, or can private citizens make their own decisions?” asked Barondeau, chairman of the Boone County Republican Central Committee.
“That’s where he can talk about the largest tax cuts in history giving people better opportunities,” Barondeau said. “For example, we now have the highest rate of home ownership in our history.”
Shumard hopes Bush will deliver a speech that excites more than the Republican base.
“I’m going to work for the president no matter what, because as I’ve seen what kind of president he has become, I believe even more in his integrity, his leadership abilities,” she said. “I want to hear something that is motivational and energetic and gets other people ready to go out and get him elected.”
Huett, a fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., wonders how the president will perform on television.
“I just hope that the caring, compassionate person he is comes through on screen,” she said. “He doesn’t always come across on television the way he does in person.”
The delegates’ high spirits will be contagious as the president formally accepts the nomination, Barondeau said.
“I’m looking forward to him reminding the American people of why he’s the perfect leader for this time,” he said. “I think he’s been doing that all along, but this is one speech where people can pay attention.”