Convention Watch: Star Spangled Line-Up

Republicans are hoping to boost sagging convention ratings with an all-star line-up. Famous faces will grace the stage on every night of the convention, with top musical acts providing entertainment during convention intermissions.

The GOP kicks off convention week Monday night with a political version of the hit game show Win Ben Stein’s Money. The star of the show, Ben Stein, will be on hand to lead the fun. Stein, famous for his monotone voice in movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the TV show The Wonder Years, is no stranger to the GOP — he was a speechwriter and lawyer for Republican presidents Nixon and Ford.

Tuesday night, blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughn and his Tilt-a-Whirl Band will kick off the evening’s session.

But Wednesday is shaping up to be the week’s most star-packed night. Perhaps the picture of the week will be House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., calling the delegates to their seats with the help of The Rock, five-time champion of the World Wrestling Federation. As soon as the delegates have taken their seats under the watchful eye of The Rock, recently retired NFL quarterback, Steve Young, will deliver the invocation.

Grammy-winning musician Kenny Gamble will deliver the evening’s first speech. He’s the founder of Universal Community Homes of South Philadelphia and will talk about urban renewal and revitalization. Later in the evening, Cuban-born singer Jon Secada will entertain the delegates between speakers. And for the evening’s closing performance, organizers will rely on an old GOP stand-by, Lee Greenwood. Greenwood’s biggest hit, “God Bless the U.S.A.”, was played often on the campaign trial in 1988 and 1992 by George W. Bush’s father, former President Bush.

On the final night of the convention, country-music star Lorrie Morgan will sing the National Anthem. The GOP has slated “film icon” Bo Derek to introduce California Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, who will address the convention in Spanish. Miss America 1995 Heather Whitestone McCallum will introduce a video tribute to Laura Bush, George W. Bush’s wife. Rising political star, George P. Bush — the 24-year-old nephew of the candidate who was recently named People magazine’s fourth most-eligible bachelor — will speak in both Spanish and English about the challenges facing young Americans.

Country music stars Brooks and Dunn will perform right before Gov. Bush is introduced to the delegates. And the GOP promises an “electrifying climax to the convention” with a performance by seven-time Grammy-winner Chaka Khan.


Oh Say Can You Sell …

Philadelphia retailers will welcome the Grand Old Party to its presidential convention with a whiff of good old-fashioned capitalism: red, white and blue martinis, rubber elephants for the bathtub and cookies resembling George W. Bush campaign buttons.

The quirky promotions at retail shops, restaurants and hotels are all about grabbing the attention — and the cash — of the 45,000 Republican officials, delegates and reporters who will attend the convention.

Convention-goers can nosh on cookies decorated like the Liberty Bell, soak in a bath with red, white and blue effervescent salts or take home a commemorative hotel room key. At the Old City restaurant Novelty, diners can eat “American Pie,” made of apples and served with ice cream and an American flag.

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