Mon., Aug. 30
Rudy Giuliani: September 11 turned him from stand-up material to America’s Mayor, so expect a searing reminiscence that makes Mike Bloomberg’s earlier remarks today sound like an accounting seminar in comparison. Because the September 11 halo inoculates Rudy from partisan attacks, insiders say, he’s been tapped to savage John Kerry. John McCain: Back in 2000, he was smeared by Bush operatives as, among other things, mentally unstable and the father of an illegitimate black child. This time they angered him by impugning fellow vet John Kerry’s military service. How did McCain retaliate? He demanded that Bush denounce such activities—then promptly and enthusiastically campaigned for him. Many say McCain’s speech will be delivered through gritted teeth; don’t bet on it. Some speculate that McCain will do all he’s asked in the hope that the party faithful will recall his loyalty in 2008. They won’t.
Tues., Aug. 31
Laura Bush: The popular First Lady has been dispatched to close the gender gap, particularly among suburban women who are turned off by all the cowboy swagger. Expect a Hallmark portrait of Bush as family man, just like the ads in which she gushed about her husband’s “soft side.” Arnold Schwarzenegger: Watch Rudy twitch and grimace as Ah-nuld effortlessly grasps the convention’s big prize: the Reagan mantle. He’s from California, has the Gipper’s charm and crossover appeal, and has appropriated his mix of flexibility and frontier justice. Speaking on “America’s compassion,” he’ll lend the GOP an easy-on-the-brain aura of moderation and star power. Nancy Reagan: Wait, you say, she’s not coming to the convention. Don’t be so sure. We’ll wager a set of fine china that at the end of the video tribute to her late husband, she’ll appear to a wild standing ovation. She never could resist a grand entrance.
Wed., Sept. 1
Lynne Cheney: Picking up where Laura left off, the V.P.’s fiery wife will introduce her husband with a single, insurmountable goal in mind: to humanize him in the eyes of female voters who find him a turnoff, particularly compared to the dreamy John Edwards. Dick Cheney: The embattled Nostradamus of the GOP creeps out of his underground warren of shelters to deliver a speech in his own defense. Senator Zell Miller: Although the conservative Georgia Democrat has long abandoned all pretenses of being a Dem, he’ll enable GOP spinmeisters to tout the GOP’s bipartisan inclinations. Expect Zell to take the speech he delivered at the 1992 Democratic convention—in which he described W.’s dad as “a timid man who hears only the voices of caution”—and repeat it verbatim, substituting Kerry for George Sr.
Thurs., Sept. 2
George Pataki: We’ve obtained a copy of Pataki’s speech, and it opens like this: “My fellow Americans, I’m honored to accept your nomination as the Republican candidate for president … ” Oh, wait, that’s the one he’s written for 2008. The governor’s challenge is to offer W. a moderate’s seal of approval while quietly pursuing his own presidential ambitions. But is the GOP big tent really big enough for two tragedy-touched “heroes” from New York? George W. Bush: There’s actually considerable suspense over what the president is going to say. He’s running short on time to present a compelling agenda for his second term. Bush is sure to be positive in his overall tone, but if he doesn’t take this opportunity to lay out a big new idea or two, he may not get the convention bounce he’s counting on.