|GEORGE P. SPEAKS|
August 3, 2000
GWEN IFILL: George P. Bush, welcome.
GEORGE P. BUSH: Thank you very much.
GWEN IFILL: You are 24 years old. This is not your first convention, but this one is very different for you, isn't it?
GEORGE P. BUSH: It is. I've played a little bit of a larger role this time around in comparison to the campaigns on behalf of my grandfather, but this time around I have a unique opportunity to speak to the convention floor about why my uncle should be President.
GWEN IFILL: You were 12 years old. You led the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then what did you do?
GEORGE P. BUSH: Then at 16, eight years ago, my grandmother allowed me to share a few remarks about what kind of person my grandfather was because at the time the large question was whether he was out of touch with the American people or not. And from being the oldest grandson what I wanted to convey is that he was a loving, sincere man who cares about all people.
GWEN IFILL: Do you find you're answering the same questions now for your uncle as well?
GEORGE P. BUSH: No, actually it's a completely different campaign. A lot of different issues are being talked about this time around. In '92, I think the country was still getting accustomed to its new role in the post Cold War era. Now it's definitely a more domestically focused campaign, and it's... the taste of it is a lot different.
GWEN IFILL: So part of your role here is to appeal to young voters. You've been visiting college campuses. You've been all around the country. What kind of response have you been getting?
GEORGE P. BUSH: It's been incredibly positive. Heading into the campaign there was definitely a conception -- pre-conceived notion that I had that younger voters didn't care about politics, didn't care about the issues, but as I toured the country and after visiting 58 high schools and over 20 colleges is that there's enthusiasm out there. Younger Americans are volunteering their time and doing community service in record numbers. I think it's just a matter of channeling that energy, getting younger people registered when they're in high school, senior year, and campaigns need to make more of an effort to add a personal touch to the politics.
GWEN IFILL: I heard, Condoleezza Rice, who is an African-American woman, say obviously I'm a package the other day when she was asked about this. You're a package too, aren't you?
GEORGE P. BUSH: I guess so. I think because of my age and also because of my Latin heritage, which I'm very proud of on my mother's side, allows me to connect with different groups, groups that typically may not be associated with the Republican Party.
GWEN IFILL: Is there any concern on your part that you are appealing to Latino voters as a monolithic group?
GEORGE P. BUSH: No, no, I'm definitely aware as a Mexican-American growing up in Miami if there's ever a Latino that understands the complete mosaic of the Latino experience in the country, it's me. There's Cubans, there's Puerto Ricans, there's Mexican-Americans, there's people from southern America and other Caribbean nations. It's an incredible experience. And I'm glad that finally Latinos as a whole together are starting to take a place in presidential politics.
GWEN IFILL: There's been a great focus in this convention after -- going after -- expanding the Republican party to appeal to voters of color. What kind of response have you been getting just around the convention this week about that theme?
GEORGE P. BUSH: Well, I think that Republicans and the delegates are starting to warm up to the vision that the party has to reach out, it has to point out the similarities that the values that the party holds dear are similar to the values that many minority communities hold dear. The Latino community, for example, faith in family, faith in community, a belief in the American dream -- these are things that the party stands firmly in. So I think that it's important that the party continues to move in this direction but not just have election year rhetoric as Colin Powell alluded to in his speech but rather make a sincere effort, continue to talk with leaders and get a real perspective on what's facing these communities.
GWEN IFILL: Your uncle has talked about compassionate conservatism. Could you define for us what you think that means?
GEORGE P. BUSH: That's the great thing about it. I just think it can almost be defined by the individual. It's a country where -- it's a belief that our nation's leaders don't have the answers to all of our problems, that the answers lie at the grass roots level. As a public high school teacher and as a strong advocate on behalf of after-school programs and not for profits, I see so many more inspirational stories in non-governmental programs than I do in governmental programs. I see... I believe and my uncle sincerely believes that the public and private sector can rally together to attack problems in inner cities and our rural areas.
GWEN IFILL: Does this Republican party feel different to you this year than it has in past years?
GEORGE P. BUSH: We have a new candidate and we have a new message. You know, as I was speaking with somebody before about is this is our face baby-boomer on the Republican side. He has got a fresh vision. He comes from a very diverse state. It's the second largest state in the country. But, not only that, he has experience in bringing together Republicans, independents, and Democrats to find consensus on issues and bringing about sweeping reforms. This is the kind of skills, this is the kind of background that our next leader is going to have to have.
GWEN IFILL: The vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney talked last night about -- basically went on the attack after... You were talking about unity. You're talking about consensus, but this crowd really loved it when Dick Cheney went after Bill Clinton.
GEORGE P. BUSH: Yeah. I think they did. I would have to tie that more to the notion that they want change. They want something different. They want a man from the Republican side of the ticket more so than anything else. One thing that we've been focusing on is unifying, but I don't think that achieving unity by tearing other people down is necessarily the way to go about doing that.
GWEN IFILL: Do we expect to see you on the campaign full time this fall?
GEORGE P. BUSH: Unfortunately, no, I start up law school at the University of Texas.
GWEN IFILL: That can't wait?
GEORGE P. BUSH: I can't wait. No.
GWEN IFILL: No, law school can't wait.
GEORGE P. BUSH: Law school cannot wait. I helped out my dad and my uncle. It's time for me to start my own path.
GWEN IFILL: Do you have a political future?
GEORGE P. BUSH: I don't know. To be honest with you, I love it. I love politics. I've been able to see behind the scenes the tremendous difference you can make, shaping public policy, shaping attitudes as it relates to so many issues that face us everyday, but I really don't know. I want to start up with law school. I'd like to have a family one day, but I like to live my life day by day.
GWEN IFILL: George P. Bush, thank you very much.
GEORGE P. BUSH: Good to see you.