, New York
Madison Square Garden
August 30th - September 2nd 2004

Presidential Nominee:
George W. Bush of Texas
Vice Presidential Nominee:
Richard B. Cheney of Wyoming
 
From August 30th to September 2nd 2004, the 38th National Convention for the Republican Party was held in Madison Square Garden, one New York's most famous and spacious arenas. Boasting seating for 20,000, the venue had to support almost 50,000 participants visiting at one time or another. Furthermore, this was the first occasion in which the Republicans had their convention in New York City. Indeed, with the city housing approximately 8 million residents it offered an urbane and diverse setting to accommodate the Republican Party, but at a price. One of the problems the Republican faced was to appeal to the broadest audience possible in a traditionally blue region of the United States.

Not surprisingly, much of the targeted voting bloc was moderate and independent constituents. One quote by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, published in the Los Angeles Times, manifested the sentiment aptly: "Maybe, just maybe, you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I believe that's not only okay but that's what's great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American, and still be good Republicans." Besides Governor, Schwarzenegger, other moderate speakers were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former New York Governor George Pataki, Sen. John McCain of Arizona , and even Independent Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia. Meanwhile, former First Lady Laura Bush endorsed her husband, appealing mainly to women to support her husband.

Overall, another way to appeal more to moderates was to emphasize issues such as national security. Case in point, the occasion kicked off with a tribute to victims of the 9/11 tragedy. The schedule included, among other things, addresses by Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph Giuliani surrounding the theme of 'A Nation of Courage.' With his military service record, McCain spoke about the role of the U.S. military and its role following the 9/11 terrorists attacks and its part in the objective to rid the world of terrorism. Similarly, Giuliani, mayor of New York at the time, enumerated his account of the notorious day in American history, also commemorating those who acted courageously in early September, 2001.

Because of the physical and chronological connection to the 3rd anniversary of the attacks, security was an enormous issue as well. Not surprisingly, the Secret Service was placed in charge of security using a myriad of tactics and components: from 10,000 officers in complete riot gear, to bomb-sniffing canines. Part of this program included the officers from NYPD's Herculean program, outfitting officers with combat gear and fully automatic weapons, and assigning them to protect likely terrorist targets. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, divulged to a member of the Associate Press how the event would be denoted as a National Special Security Event in which the Secret Service would form and execute a security setup concordantly with state and local authorities with the objective of hindering any threatening illegal activity. Of course, such a stronghold of security comes at none too small of a price. Much of the approximately 60 million spent on city services funded this premium security - a substantial percentage of the 150 plus million dollar price tag.

As far as dissenters, there was a fairly strong presence. On September 1st, some 5,000 demonstrators formed a line spanning 3 miles, indicating a then discouraged outlook at the state of the economy. One of the largest assemblies, it sharply contrasted 11 members of the AIDS group ACT UP, who were arrested while protesting on stage, interrupting the speech of White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. Though, an isolated incident, some figures released estimate approximately 1800 were arrested overall. Most of the number of those detained was kept in Pier 57 - an area in Manhattan updated for the purpose of temporary confining up to 1,000 people. Pier 57 itself angered a group of some 200 protesters who voiced disapproval of the conditions, some even comparing it to Guantanamo Bay prison. As it turns out many did not end up serving time in jail. According to a report by Jonathan Wald through CNN.com, video evidence led to charges against some of the protesters being dropped.

Even with the backdrop of mass arrests, no crippling disruptions were reported. Former First Lady Laura Bush, and Gov Schwarzenegger gave their scheduled speeches with no delays for the second day's 'A People of Compassion.' On Day 3, 'A Land of Opportunity,' the 46th Vice President Cheney accepted the vice-presidential nomination for that presidency and former Sen. Zell Miller, (D-Ga) gave the keynote speech. The closing day, themed 'A Safer World, a more Hopeful America' included a tribute to Ronald Regan, who passed away earlier that year, in addition to speeches from George Pataki and George Bush. Since incumbent Republican George W Bush faced no competition for the 2509 delegates' votes, the outcome was inevitable: Bush's final address included his acceptance of the 2004 Republican Party nomination for presidency.



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