George Bush accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday by declaring that he has a mission: "Keep America moving forward, always forward."
And he said he always completes his missions, such as the time in World War II that he finished a bombing mission - even though his crewmates had been killed and his plane was aflame."There have been other missions for me - Congress, China, the CIA. But I am here tonight - and I am your candidate - because the most important work of my life is to complete the mission we started in 1980. How do we complete it? We build on it."
While Bush's speech climaxed the Republican National Convention, Dan Quayle - Bush's running mate - also gave his first speech to a national television audience, and used the life of a Roy, Utah, woman as an example of how Republican programs can help people off welfare and into good jobs (see story on this page).
But Bush held the spotlight Thursday. And although he said he is not the most eloquent, he could have fooled the Republicans who cheered him on at every word. His simple, straightforward speech carried all the power of Ronald Reagan's farewell on Monday.
"I accept your nomination for president. I mean to run hard, to fight hard, to stand on the issues - and I mean to win. There are a lot of great stories in politics about the underdog winning - and this is going to be one of them."
Actually, one national poll already shows him winning. A national New Orleans Times-Picayune poll conducted Wednesday showed him leading Michael Dukakis 44 percent to 39 percent, with 17 percent undecided.
Bush outlined his dreams saying, "This has been called the American century because in it we were the dominant force for good in the world. We saved Europe, cured polio, we went to the moon and lit the world with our culture. Now we are on the verge of a new century, and what country's name will it bear? I say it will be another American century."
He speech took strong stands on issues and set high goals.
"On jobs, my mission is: 30 in 8. Thirty million jobs in the next eight years."
He said he supports the pledge of allegiance in schools, the death penalty, voluntary school prayer and opposes gun control and abortion. Dukakis takes opposite stands on each issue.
Bush especially emphasized his pro-life stance. "We must change from abortion to adoption. I have an adopted granddaughter. The day of her christening we wept with joy. I thank God her parents chose life."
On other issues he said, "I'm the one who won't raise taxes. . . . I'm the one who believes it is a scandal to give a weekend furlough to a hardened first-degree murderer. . . . I am going to stop ocean dumping. . . . We must clean the air. We must reduce the harm done by acid rain. . . . In foreign affairs I will continue our policy of peace through strength. . . . I will ban chemical and biological weapons from the face of the earth."
He also urged voters to remember that he had a hand in the economic revival that occurred during the Reagan-Bush administration, even though Democrats say that recovery hasn't been good enough _ leaving pockets of depression.
"They call it a Swiss cheese economy. Well, that's the way it may look to the three blind mice. But when they were in charge it was all holes and no cheese.
"Inflation was 12 percent when we came in. We got it down to 4. Interest rates were more than 21. We cut them in half. Unemployment was up and climbing; now it's the lowest in 14 years," he said.
"And now who do we hear knocking on the door but the doctors who made him (America) sick. And they're telling us to put them in charge of the case again. My friends, they're lucky we don't hit them with a malpractice suit."
When Bush finished his speech, balloons and confetti showered delegates _ with the Utah delegation at the center of the deluge _ and all former Republican presidential candidates joined Bush at the podium in a show of unity.
Reaction to Bush's speech was, overall, favorable. He hit the high points he needed, national commentators said. Bush seemed to enjoy the speech, smiling and laughing several times. He was at ease, but he didn't reach the emotional high that Democrat Michael Dukakis reached in his presidential nomination acceptance speech. As one commentator summed up, "Mr. Bush did very well. About as well as he could."
Utah delegates loved the speech, as did all in the Superdome.
For example, alternate delegate Bud Scruggs, who is also the campaign manager for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, "I have met Bush many times in the past and felt he is good with small groups, but when he has taken the podium to talk to large groups he suffered from what I call the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Rodgers syndrome.
"But tonight, I think he gave a much better speech than Reagan did on Monday. I think that's because in the past he had to play the role of cheerleader for Reagan. But tonight I learned more about George Bush than I did in the past seven years."
Delegate T.H. Bell, who was U.S. education secretary in Reagan's Cabinet for four years with Bush, said, "It's the best speech I've ever heard him give. He delivered it well and the content was superb. He touched a large number of issues and sparkled it with one-liners and zingers."
State Republican Chairman Craig Moody said, "It was above and beyond the best speech he's ever given. It was the kind of speech we've learned to expect from Ronald Reagan."
Millions of Americans also received their first look Thursday at Quayle when he gave his acceptance speech.
His talk had special significance to Pam Snyder LaRue of Roy, Utah _ whom Quayle used as an example of someone who turned her life around with the help of Job Training Partnership Act, which Quayle wrote.
He said of Snyder LaRue, "A single parent with four children, she was a high school dropout on welfare. She joined the JTPA program. First, she earned a high school equivalency credential. Then she earned an accounting certificate. Today she is a staff accountant at a vocational center. She is off welfare and proud to making it on her own. She now has a future."
The thousands of delegates packed into the Superdome cheered and applauded her story.
Hatch said Quayle likely came up with the idea to mention Snyder LaRue because Hatch himself has mentioned her success in some of his speeches. "I guess he heard that and checked it out. But I didn't suggest it to him and didn't talk to him today," he said when questioned.
Quayle also listed other credentials to show that he feels he is qualified to be vice president.
"Since 1980, I have been a U.S. senator from Indiana _ and proud of it. Before that, I was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives _ and proud of it.
"And as a young man, I served six years in the National Guard. And, like the millions of Americans who have served in the Guard and who serve today _ I am proud of it," he said in response to criticism that he may have joined the guard to escape combat duty during the Vietnam War.
He concluded by saying, "I am privileged to be the first person of my generation to be on a national ticket. . . . I express thanks to George Bush's generation for bringing us to an era of peace and freedom and opportunity."