2004 Republican National Convention
Last updated on 23 August 2017
The 2004 Republican National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States, took place from August 30 to September 2, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The convention is one of a series of historic quadrennial meetings at which the Republican candidate for President of the United States and party platform are formally adopted. Attendance included 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternate delegates from the states, territories and the District of Columbia. The convention marked the formal end of the active primary election season.
The theme of the convention was "Fulfilling America's Promise by Building a Safer World and a More Hopeful America." Defining moments of the 2004 Republican National Convention include a featured keynote address by Zell Miller and the confirmation of the nomination of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for reelection. Bush and Cheney faced the Democratic Party's ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards in the 2004 presidential election.
Apart from nominating a candidate for President and Vice President, the 2004 Republican National Convention was also charged with crafting an official party platform and political agenda for the next four years. At the helm of the Platform Committee was United States Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania and Colorado Governor Bill Owens. The committee worked with the Bush campaign to develop the draft platform.
The platform adopted by the 2004 Republican National Convention was the longest in the party's history compared to the mere 1,000-word platform adopted at the first convention in 1856. At 48,000 words, it was twice the length of the one adopted at the 2004 Democratic National Convention which was only 19,500 words.
The choice of Madison Square Garden on January 31, 2003 by all 165 members of the Republican National Committee as the venue for the 2004 Republican National Convention meant that New York City would host a major Republican nominating convention for the first time in the nation's history. On July 19, control of Madison Square Garden was officially handed over to the Republican Party under the administration of Chief Executive Officer of the Convention, Bill Harris. Mayor Michael Bloomberg thanked the party for their choice, for which he had vigorously lobbied, noting it as a significant display of support for the city and an economic boom.
Like the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially declared the 2004 Republican National Convention a National Special Security Event (NSSE). As such, the United States Secret Service was charged with employing and coordinating all federal and local agencies including the various bureaus of DHS, the FBI, and the NYPD to secure the venue from terrorist attacks. Expected security expenditures reached $70 million, $50 million of which was funded by the federal government.
The city employed an active beat of 10,000 police officers deployed as Hercules teams—uniformed in full riot gear and body armor, and equipped with submachine guns and rifles. Commuter and Amtrak trains entering and exiting Penn Station were scoured by bomb-sniffing dogs as uniformed police officers were attached to buses carrying delegates. All employees of buildings surrounding Madison Square Garden were subjected to thorough screening and background checks.
The NYPD infiltrated and compiled dossiers on protest groups (most of whom were doing nothing illegal), leading to over 1,800 arrests and subsequent fingerprinting.
The convention took place in New York City a week before the third anniversary of September 11. The attacks were a primary theme of the convention, from the choice of speakers to repeated invocations of the attacks. At the convention, there was a performance of "Amazing Grace" by Daniel Rodriguez, a tribute to those killed on September 11. Relatives of three of the victims spoke and talked about how September 11 brought the country together. Also contributing musically were Brooks & Dunn, Sara Evans, Lee Ann Womack, Darryl Worley.
Early in the summer leading up to the 2004 Republican National Convention, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie announced the first slate of convention speakers. He added, "It is an honor to announce the addition of these outstanding Americans to the 2004 Republican National Convention program. For the past three and a half years, President Bush has led with strength and compassion and these speakers reflect that." Chief Executive Officer of the Convention Bill Harris commented, "These speakers have seen President Bush's strong, steady leadership and each will attest to his character from a unique perspective. Their vast experience and various points of view are a testament to the depth and breadth of the support for the Republican ticket in 2004."
Considered to be one of the most interesting choices for speakers at the convention was a keynote address by Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat. Miller had consistently voted with Republicans. In a Wall Street Journal editorial Miller cited that the reason for his defection was that, "I barely recognize my party anymore." He continued, "Today, it's the Democratic Party that has mastered the art of division and diversion. To run for president as a Democrat these days you have to go from interest group to interest group, cap in hand, asking for the support of liberal kingmakers." He finished by saying, "I still believe in hope and opportunity and, when it comes right down to it, Mr. Bush is the man who represents hope and opportunity."
His keynote address was a visceral smite to Democrats and an excoriating attack on John Kerry, blaming him for the divisions in America. Notably, he mocked Kerry's call for strength in the armed forces by noting several important military projects that Kerry had opposed, saying that Kerry wanted "forces armed with what - spitballs?" Including Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, he claimed "no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often, than the two senators from Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy and John Kerry."
In his speech, Miller also heaped his praise for 1940 Republican Presidential nominee Wendell Willkie for supporting President Roosevelt's establishment of a military draft, raising concerns about the intentions of President Bush in this area.
Zell Miller also delivered the keynote address on behalf of Bill Clinton in 1992 at Madison Square Garden. He remained a Democrat in the Senate until leaving in 2005 (he was not running for reelection). However, after this address, his affiliation with the national Democratic Party was unquestionably over.
Nancy Reagan's absence
Nancy Reagan's spokesperson announced that the former First Lady fully supported President Bush for the general election. The spokesperson added that while the former First Lady and her children would be absent from the 2004 Republican National Convention, President Reagan's son with Jane Wyman, Michael Reagan, had accepted an invitation to address the delegates. Nancy Reagan appeared in the filmed tribute he introduced. He dedicated the film to everyone who helped make his father president of the United States.
During the convention, delegates paid tribute to Reagan in different ways. Many of the speakers from California and Illinois, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, mentioned Reagan in their speeches and compared Reagan to Bush. Those from Illinois, including Hastert, compared Bush to both Reagan and Abraham Lincoln, another native son of their state.
Monday, August 30
- George Allen, United States Senator from Virginia
- Lindsey Graham, United States Senator from South Carolina
- Angie Harmon, Actress
- Bernard Kerik, Former Commissioner of the New York Police Department
- Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Television host
- Edward I. Koch, Former Democratic Mayor of New York City
- Marc Racicot, former Governor of Montana
- Jason Sehorn, Athlete
- Ron Silver, Actor
- Bob Taft, Governor of Ohio
- Ann Wagner, Co-chair, Republican National Committee
Tuesday, August 31
Wednesday, September 1
President Bush was nominated at the end of a "rolling roll call" that had started the day before, when Pennsylvania's delegation cast the deciding votes.
|Republican National Convention presidential vote, 2004
|George W. Bush
- " There are times in history, when our ideas are more important and necessary and critical, and this is one of those times" -Rudy Giuliani
- "We step forward by never forgetting that America is a force for good in the world, fighting for freedom and human rights. On this, there is no question: George W. Bush is right and the Blame America First Crowd is wrong! Americans will rise to every challenge we face." —Mitt Romney
- "In fact, during this campaign, Senator Kerry is now proposing more than $2 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years. And we still have two months to go before the election. We all know how he would pay for this explosion in new spending: He would need to raise your taxes.
John Kerry believes that government can spend our money better than we can. But most Americans don't share this view. That's why John Kerry has to preach the politics of division, of envy and resentment. That's why they talk so much about two Americas. But class warfare is not an economic policy. And the politics of division will not make America stronger, and it will not lead to prosperity.'" Paul Ryan
- "Where is the bi-partisanship in this country when we need it most? Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief." —Zell Miller
- "Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home. For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag. No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home." —Zell Miller
- "And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror. Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts. The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40% of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom. The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq. The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11. I could go on and on and on: Against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel, Against the Aegis air-defense cruiser, Against the Strategic Defense Initiative, Against the Trident missile, against, against, against. This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?" —Zell Miller
- "In the weeks and months after September 11, I had so many people come up to me and say how glad they were that George Bush and Dick Cheney were in the White House. I knew exactly what they meant. These men are strong, they are steadfast, they are exactly the leaders we need at this moment in our history." —Lynne Cheney
- "Just as surely as the Nazis during World War Two and the Soviet communists during the Cold War, the enemy we face today is bent on our destruction. As in other times, we are in a war we did not start, and have no choice but to win. Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by a superb commander in chief, we will prevail. The fanatics who killed some 3,000 of our fellow Americans may have thought they could attack us with impunity because terrorists had done so previously. But if the killers of September 11 thought we had lost the will to defend our freedom, they did not know America and they did not know George W. Bush." —Dick Cheney
- "I watch him at work every day. I have seen him face some of the hardest decisions that can come to the Oval Office and make those decisions with the wisdom and humility Americans expect in their president. George W. Bush is a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. He is a person of loyalty and kindness and he brings out these qualities in those around him. He is a man of great personal strength and more than that, a man with a heart for the weak, and the vulnerable, and the afflicted. We all remember that terrible morning when, in the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we lost at Pearl Harbor. We remember the President who came to New York City and pledged that the terrorists would soon hear from all of us. George W. Bush saw this country through grief and tragedy he has acted with patience, and calm, and a moral seriousness that calls evil by its name. In the great divide of our time, he has put this nation where America always belongs: against the tyrants of this world, and on the side of every soul on earth who yearns to live in freedom. Fellow citizens, our nation is reaching the hour of decision, and the choice is clear. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the judgment of the American people." —Dick Cheney
Thursday, September 2
Vice President Dick Cheney was nominated by voice vote for reelection.
- "Over forty years ago, my parents sent me, as a young child, out of a land ruled by a Communist dictator and now, just forty-eight hours ago, I became the Republican nominee for the United States Senate from the great State of Florida. Only in America! Only in America can a fifteen year old boy arrive on our shores alone, not speaking the language with a suitcase and the hope of a brighter future and rise to serve in the cabinet of the President of the United States. And, only in America can that same young boy, today, stand one step away from making history as the first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Senate." —Mel Martinez
- "I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. But I believe in democracy. I believe in America. After almost four decades as a Soldier I've been Independent — some would say very independent. But, here I stand tonight, endorsing George W. Bush to be the next President of the United States. America is a land of opportunity and a land of choice. A great war time President, Franklin Roosevelt, once said: 'Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.' Delegates and Friends I am prepared to 'choose wisely.' And I choose George W. Bush." —Tommy Franks
- "America did not choose this war. But we have a President who chooses to win it. This is no ordinary time. The stakes could not be higher. Fate has handed our generation a grave new threat to freedom. And fortune has given us a leader who will defend that freedom. This is no ordinary time. And George W. Bush is no ordinary leader." —George Pataki
- "Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens: I am honored by your support, and I accept your nomination for President of the United States. When I said those words four years ago, none of us could have envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart of this great city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning. We saw the bravery of rescuers grow with danger. We learned of passengers on a doomed plane who died with a courage that frightened their killers. We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet. And we have seen Americans in uniform storming mountain strongholds, and charging through sandstorms, and liberating millions, with acts of valor that would make the men of Normandy proud. Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb, and found the strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America and nothing will hold us back." —George W. Bush
- "Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer." —George W. Bush
- "This year, we will win one for the Gipper, and they will lose one with the Flipper" —George Pataki
- "In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand." —George W. Bush
- "To everything we know there is a season a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go forward grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, and may God continue to bless America." —George W. Bush
According to Rasmussen weekly tracking polls, Bush led Kerry by 0.3% on the poll released August 26. On September 2, Bush's lead had increased to 2.5%. On September 9, the lead had decreased to 1.3%. Bush would maintain his leads throughout the fall.
Protest activity included marches, rallies, performances, demonstrations, exhibits, and acts of civil disobedience in New York City to protest the 2004 Republican National Convention and the nomination of President George W. Bush for the 2004 U.S. presidential election, as well as a much smaller number of people who marched to support Bush at the convention.
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