by Wayne Madsen
John McCain spoke at the opening session of the Shadow Convention last week in Philadelphia, drawing boos and catcalls as he endorsed George W. Bush.
"I am obliged, not by party loyalty, but by a sincere conviction," McCain emphasized, "to support my party's nominee, Governor George Bush of Texas." His comment was met with a flurry of jeers from both liberal activists and McCain's own supporters. Of the latter, many were veterans of McCain's bruising primary campaign against Bush.
McCain's uncharacteristic praise for the Texas Governor surprised Ron Fischer, the former chairman of McCain's northern Virginia presidential campaign. Fischer, a Naval Academy classmate of McCain's, said the senator seemed to be under "a lot of pressure" from the Bush camp to enthusiastically support the Texas Governor.
In his speech, however, McCain did not once mention the name of Bush's vice presidential running mate, oil executive Dick Cheney. In the days prior to Bush's selection of Cheney, a number of GOP leaders were overtly and covertly backing McCain for the number two spot.
McCain's speech was also punctuated by heckling from an eclectic group of activists holding three-sided signs similar to those bearing the names of states and territories seen at the official conventions. The signs bore slogans like "Disaffected," "Disappointed," "Disrespected," and "2 Poor 4 Access." Some individuals shouted that McCain was supporting the alleged relocation of some of Arizona's Hopi-Navajos in order to allow coal mining on their reservations.
Most delegates, however, demanded that the hecklers to shut up and allow McCain to finish his speech uninterrupted. Arianna Huffington, the driving force behind both the Philadelphia and Los Angeles Shadow Conventions, also came to McCain's defense, asking the more disruptive delegates to show some courtesy to the former presidential candidate. Her rebuke resulted in standing applause from a large majority of the convention in a segment not aired by most of the television networks.
on July 29 McCain released all of his current 170 committed delegates to Bush, having previously lost 70 additional delegate seats to Bush as a result of GOP gerrymandering. Most of these seats were lost in "winner take all" states that McCain won in the primaries.
Michigan, for example, was one such state. McCain won its 58 delegates. However, Governor John Engler, a Bush supporter, would not have been able to lead his state's delegation to the Philadelphia convention. So the Michigan GOP apparatchiks merely expropriated 12 of McCain's delegates.
Engler explained his delegation's situation to this reporter during a chance street encounter in downtown Philadelphia. Engler said 46 of Michigan's delegates were pledged to McCain but other McCain delegates walked into GOP offices in his state demanding seats merely because they claimed to be McCain delegates. He said the Bush campaign was justified in claiming the 12 seats because there were questions about the legitimacy of those prospective delegates.
What appears illegitimate, however, is that under GOP rules, the 12 Michigan seats were reserved for McCain supporters and not Bush loyalists. Under such a scenario, prospective McCain delegates like Ron Kinder of California could demand seats in the "winner-take-all" California delegation. Although Bush won California, McCain piled up an impressive number of votes as well.
Kinder, however, must view the GOP convention proceedings from seats reserved for non-voting guests.
Similar delegate grabbing occurred in the other states in which McCain won all the seats: Arizona, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In those states, Governors Jane Hull, Paul Celucci, John Rowland, and Lincoln Almond -- all, respectively, Bush supporters -- simply grabbed seats away from duly elected McCain delegates, giving them to themselves and their political cronies.
August 7, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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