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Dole Is Saluted By Powell, Bush

ELECTION '96

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

SAN DIEGO (AP)--Colin L. Powell stepped into a starring role yesterday night as Republicans opened their national convention by celebrating Bob Dole as a tested, trustworthy leader who will lower taxes and bring compassionate conservatism to the White House.

A packed convention center crackled with excitement as the GOP raised the curtain on the campaign to evict President Clinton from the White House. "Dole-Kemp" was the party's rallying cry, and the delegates quickly warmed to the refrain.

The GOP loyalists sat in affectionate silence during a video tribute to Ronald Reagan and an emotional commentary by former first lady Nancy Reagan.

The party's new recruit, Powell, was cheered at the top of his speech just for speaking the words, "My fellow Republicans."

But Powell was booed by some delegates when he called for Republicans to respect him and others in the party who are at odds with the GOP platform in their support of abortion rights and affirmative action. The boo birds were quickly drowned out by delegates who cheered as Powell went on to say:

"We are a big enough party, and big enough people, to disagree on individual issues and still work together for our common goal: restoring the American dream." Former president Gerald R. Ford too urged GOP activists to work under a big tent open to broad views. "Ours is the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln," Ford said.

Delegates used a morning session to adopt a decidedly conservative platform that calls for constitutional amendments outlawing abortion and denying citizenship to American-born children of illegal immigrants.

But the evening program had a softer tone, as Republicans sought to avoid the harder-edged speeches that were common at the party's 1992 convention. Mixed in with staple GOP calls for less regulation, lower taxes and moving people from welfare to work were poignant appeals from a woman and child with AIDS and a reminder that a smaller government need not be indifferent.

"I know we can create a more decent and compassionate society," said Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

His father was among three former presidents honored as Republicans sought to revive the formula that, until Clinton won four years ago, had kept the White House in GOP hands for 20 of the previous 24 years.

Ford recalled his decision to name Dole, then a Kansas senator, as his running mate in 1976. "I found Bob Dole fit to be president then; I find him even more qualified today," Ford said. He won a rousing cheer for calling Clinton "a convertible Dodge. Isn't it time we had a trade-in?"

Powell made the case Dole deserved to take Clinton's place as commander in chief.

"In an era of too much salesmanship and too much smooth-talking, Bob Dole is a plain-spoken man," Powell said. "A man of strength, maturity and integrity. He is a man who can bring trust back to government and bring Americans together again."

Former president Bush took aim at the man who defeated him in 1992, saying, "It breaks my heart when the White House is demeaned, the presidency diminished." Paying tribute to Dole's World War II heroism and decades of loyal Republican spadework, Bush said of Dole: "He will be a president we can look up to. He will do us proud."

"A Better Man for A Better America," was the convention theme from speaker after speaker--many of them women as the GOP moved to close the gender gap.

Speeches were ordered to be brief and crisp as part of a made-for-TV program that included presentations from everyday Americans about their hopes and aspirations--and dissatisfaction with the Democratic incumbent.

But little of the program was carried by the commercial networks, which broadcast only the final hour of the opening night program. In the midst of prime-time, NBC was broadcasting "Gramps" with Andy Griffith, CBS telecast "Murphy Brown" and ABC put on a television movie

Ford recalled his decision to name Dole, then a Kansas senator, as his running mate in 1976. "I found Bob Dole fit to be president then; I find him even more qualified today," Ford said. He won a rousing cheer for calling Clinton "a convertible Dodge. Isn't it time we had a trade-in?"

Powell made the case Dole deserved to take Clinton's place as commander in chief.

"In an era of too much salesmanship and too much smooth-talking, Bob Dole is a plain-spoken man," Powell said. "A man of strength, maturity and integrity. He is a man who can bring trust back to government and bring Americans together again."

Former president Bush took aim at the man who defeated him in 1992, saying, "It breaks my heart when the White House is demeaned, the presidency diminished." Paying tribute to Dole's World War II heroism and decades of loyal Republican spadework, Bush said of Dole: "He will be a president we can look up to. He will do us proud."

"A Better Man for A Better America," was the convention theme from speaker after speaker--many of them women as the GOP moved to close the gender gap.

Speeches were ordered to be brief and crisp as part of a made-for-TV program that included presentations from everyday Americans about their hopes and aspirations--and dissatisfaction with the Democratic incumbent.

But little of the program was carried by the commercial networks, which broadcast only the final hour of the opening night program. In the midst of prime-time, NBC was broadcasting "Gramps" with Andy Griffith, CBS telecast "Murphy Brown" and ABC put on a television movie

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