|2004 presidential election|
|Date(s)||August 30 – September 2, 2004|
|City||New York City|
|Venue||Madison Square Garden|
|Keynote speaker||Zell Miller|
|Presidential nominee||George W. Bush of Texas|
|Vice presidential nominee||Dick Cheney of Wyoming|
|Votes needed for nomination||1,255|
|Results (president)||Bush (TX): 2,508 (99.96%)|
Abstention: 1 (0.04%)
|Results (vice president)||Cheney (WY): 100% (Acclamation)|
The 2004 Republican National Convention 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 candidates for president and vice president, 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. As of 2021[update], it is the most recent major-party nominating convention to be held in New York City.
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 and won.
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 its 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.
As of the 2020 presidential election, 2004 is the last time that either major party held their convention in a state that was not considered to be a swing state (the Democrats held their 2004 convention in Boston, Massachusetts).
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 an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, 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 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.
"[A] heroic story comes to us from Michigan, where 19-year-old Rita Arnaout was involved in a four-car pileup that nearly killed her in March. While doctors were operating, one of her lungs collapsed. It turns out there was a malignant tumor pressing against her lung and heart. Despite the debilitating effects of cancer treatment, Rita insists on continuing her work as a volunteer for the Bush campaign. Her doctor said he didn't think it was a good idea. Rita started crying and said, 'But President Bush needs my help'. She also says if someone like her can spend time working the phones for President Bush, we all can."
"We should remember, it wasn't so long ago that confidence in New York was in short supply. When I took the oath of office nearly three years ago, we were a city in mourning a city that had, in a few dreadful hours, lost almost 3,000 of our own husbands, wives, sons, and daughters from every part of the nation, and every corner of the globe. There were those who doubted then whether this city could hold onto the gains made during the 90s under Mayor Giuliani. A lot of people were wondering what the future held for New York City, or whether we even had a future. But neither America nor President Bush ever stopped believing in us. Nearly two years ago, with the city's fate still a question mark in many minds, our President decided that this Convention would come to New York. This was a show of faith that required courage and vision one that all New Yorkers will not forget. And today it fills me with enormous pride and gratitude to tell everyone that New York City is back!"
"All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility. All other responsibilities come second. We must not lose sight of that as we debate who among us should bear the greatest responsibility for keeping us safe and free. We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time. My friends in the Democratic Party and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation. I don't doubt their sincerity. They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy. They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies. We agree."
"We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences. But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them. Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity. We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight. We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender."
"From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to President George W. Bush our party's great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world. And our party is at its best when it makes certain that we have a powerful national defense in a still very dangerous world. I don't believe we're right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything. Neither party has a monopoly on virtue. But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing."
"We live in a great country. A nation of good people in pursuit of great ideals defined by our Founders, defended by citizen-soldiers, and delivered to us. We inherited a great nation. So must our children! No nation whatever the size of its armed forces or economy can sustain greatness unless it educates all, not just some, of its citizens. No one understands that better than President Bush. He's always had a compassionate vision for education: Students challenged by high standards; teachers armed with proper resources; parents empowered with information and choices. Young adults with meaningful diplomas in their hands not despair in their hearts."
"My fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how. If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican! If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican! If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican! If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world, then you are a Republican! And, ladies and gentlemen if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican!"
"There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people ...and faith in the U.S. economy. To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie men!"
"This time of war has been a time of great hardship for our military families. The President and I want all our men and women in uniform and their wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to know we appreciate their sacrifice. We know it will mean a more peaceful future for our children and grandchildren. No American President ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn't want to go to war, but he knew saving the union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn't want to go to war—but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it. And my husband didn't want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it. I remember some very quiet nights at the dinner table. George was weighing grim scenarios and ominous intelligence about potentially even more devastating attacks. I listened many nights as George talked with foreign leaders on the phone, or in our living room, or at our ranch in Crawford. I remember an intense weekend at Camp David. George and Prime Minister Tony Blair were discussing the threat from Saddam Hussein. And I remember sitting in the window of the White House, watching as my husband walked on the lawn below. I knew he was wrestling with these agonizing decisions that would have such profound consequence for so many lives and for the future of our world. And I was there when my husband had to decide. Once again, as in our parents' generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the world toward greater security and freedom."
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||2,508||99.96%|
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
Vice President Dick Cheney was nominated by voice vote for reelection.
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.
Main article: 2004 Republican National Convention protest activity
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.
On May 17, 2006 Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! reported on the FBI launch of a criminal civil rights investigation of NYPD after Desert storm veteran Dennis Kyne went to trial and had all charges dropped due to video evidence showing the police falsified reports and sworn testimony.