Convention Notebook

WANTED: COUNTRY-CLUB EXPERIENCEBuzzing along the byways outside the First Union Center are hundreds of battery-powered golf carts, ferrying Republican National Convention-goers from one far-flung venue to another. Traffic clogs prompt some drivers to try maneuvers worthy of the Andrettis. One was spotted climbing up a curb to navigate the sidewalk, and another, seizing an opening, actually burned rubber.

"Are these people licensed to drive these things?" grumbled one pedestrian.

Actually, no. Most of them are piloted by volunteers - possibly with no prior experience, other than perhaps going into the woods after a lost ball.

TIME FOR SNIPING TO GO?

Political attacks get a thumbs-down reaction from many undecided voters.

Undecided voters palpably registered their coolness as vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney put some heat into his acceptance speech Wednesday with a refrain - "It is time for them to go" - directed at the Clinton-Gore White House. As he spoke, pollsters electronically monitored the responses of 36 undecided voters who watched: 12 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and 12 independents.

The slightest criticism of the current administration angered the Democrats and independents. They wanted Mr. Cheney to detail what he and George W. Bush would do, not rehash the Clinton years. Gore will face similar pressure to stay positive, says GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who conducted the study for MSNBC.

HARD TO CASH IN ON THE ECONOMY

Gore gets only a nominal political boost from the booming economy. When voters were asked who should get primary credit for economic progress, the largest number said ... themselves. Over 26 percent said the "hard work of the American people," says pollster John Zogby. Clinton-Gore were close behind with 25 percent. Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan got 18 percent. Pats on the back went to the Internet revolution (8 percent), former President George Bush (8 percent), and the Republican Congress (7 percent).

50 UNSCRIPTED STATES

Even in a streamlined convention, the roll call of the states offered the chance to engage in old-fashioned, not-made-for-TV oratorical horseplay, a rolling reminder of the sometimes eccentric identities of the 50 states. South Dakota hyped itself as "pheasant capital of the world." Tennessee chided Gore: "We look forward to his return to Tennessee as a private citizen in January 2001." Utah called itself "the only state that starts with 'U.' "

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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