Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Hit a Triple in Speech

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Hit a Triple in Speech

Article excerpt

And guess what?" Jack Kemp asked, trying to shoosh the enthusiastic crowd. When some in the audience started shouting back guesses, he had to say "That was a rhetorical question - you don't have to answer."

That was the only moment of ad-lib levity in the disciplined march of speeches in San Diego.

The central fact is that the convention worked. Visual and verbal messages transformed the Dole-Kemp ticket into a contender. Here is an ex-speechwriter's scorecard of the speeches that created the "bounce":

Although Colin Powell did not pick up on Nancy Reagan's powerfully affecting moment, his embrace of Republicanism and his symbolism of the party's big-tentedness justified his star billing. The speaker's presence and commanding delivery overshadowed his own words.

Keynoter Rep. Susan Molinari of New York deserved a gentlewoman's C for a sunny presentation, made memorable by TV's cutaway shots to her baby. However, that working mother must have stung the Clintonites: George Stephanopoulos on Sunday lashed out at her for "having lied about her drug use."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas provided a rousing soundbite, bringing new life to the hyphen, but her speech was hardly the character onslaught the media made it out to be. Fortunately for the GOP, reporters all but ignored a tasteless, out-of-bounds crack by James Baker.

Best speech by far of the convention was Sen. John McCain's nomination of Bob Dole. This brief gem from a brave man - telling a dramatic story in simple words, building to a throat-catching climax - was delivered with quiet modesty and grace. Lesson: Great oratory need not be bombastic, nor splendid speechwriting festooned with anaphora or chiasmus.

Now to the acceptance address, the modern centerpiece of the preconteste d convention.

Dole's speech was not a home run, but a triple from a hitter who doubters thought could not reach first base.

The speech read better than it sounded, reflecting literary authorship and delivery by a speaker untrained in voice modulation. But the theme was clear: Trust the people, which includes trusting them to spend their own earnings wisely and to more fully exercise their freedom with less government regulation. …

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