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2000-07-31

Jim Nicholson

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Amy interviews Jim Nicholson, Chairperson of the Republican National Committee. [includes rush transcript]

Tape:

  • Jim Nicholson, Chairperson of the Republican National Committee. Amy interviewing Jim Nicholson on the Convention floor.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN:

You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, broadcasting live from the Independent Media Center in Philadelphia, as we bring you five days of special coverage of the Republican National Convention, about to kick off at the First Union Convention Center.

JUAN GONZALEZ:

Yes, Amy, and I think we’re in for an amazing week this week here in Philadelphia, the cradle of the American Republic, and I think that a lot of the founding fathers, with all their failings and shortcomings, would be shocked at what the political process has turned into in the United States. It’s basically going to be a huge show by the Republican Party, but at the same time we will be covering both the Shadow Convention occurring in West Philadelphia, as well as all of the many protests in the streets that are far more representative, perhaps, of what are some of the concerns of the American people.

AMY GOODMAN:

That’s right. This is two things: I think you could say it is a coronation, as will be the Democratic National Convention — we obviously already know who the candidate for president of the party will be: in the case of the Republicans, the Texas Governor George W. Bush; in the case of the Democrats, Al Gore — but this is also a tremendous opportunity to consolidate financial power. That’s what this four days of conventioneering is all about.

There are no decisions, in the sense of who will be the leader of the party, taking place. It is a chance for corporations, like Philip Morris, like Enron, corporations that are here in force, in every hotel. The corporate executives are the regents, the new class of contributor, many of them staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. It’s here that they get to show their power and, well, grease a few wheels.

JUAN GONZALEZ:

And as for the 2,066 Republican delegates, we have some polls that give us an idea of who they are. One-in-five admits to having a net worth of a million dollars or more.

AMY GOODMAN:

Wait. One-in-five of the —

JUAN GONZALEZ:

Delegates.

AMY GOODMAN:

— 2,066 delegates.

JUAN GONZALEZ:

Right, are millionaires. One-in-five are members of the NRA. And over half admit to either owning a gun or having a family member who has a gun in his house.

AMY GOODMAN:

Well, that can be topped in our show, because later in the program we’ll be going to Billionaires for Bush. So, well, you won’t have to hold onto your pocketbooks; they’ve already got the money.

We’re going to go now, speaking of money, and this, I have to say, incredible first-time event that is taking place in community media. We are broadcasting on community radio stations around the country. We are broadcasting on public access TV stations, cable stations, around the country in a first-time-ever national broadcast that will be going on for the whole week and the whole week of the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. And we’re broadcasting to two million homes through DISH network.

At the same time, we’re live streaming on the web, and if you want to be able to hear us on the web, we are unveiling our website today at www.democracynow.org, Breaking with Convention: Power, Protest and the Presidency. This is a multimedia extravaganza, a chance to reach people all over not only this country, but the world.

Yesterday, I had a chance to go over to the convention center, where they’re setting up, and bumped into, because there’s a lot of face-to-face contact at those conventions with people you don’t normally get to talk to, the Chair of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    [...] convention, it’s just corporations buying and selling the presidents and the delegates. You’re talking about raising an amount of money that has never been raised before.

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Who are you with?

    AMY GOODMAN:

    My name is Amy Goodman. I’m with Pacifica Radio.

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Are you recording this?

    AMY GOODMAN:

    Yes, we’re recording.

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    OK. I say to them, the fact that over the last several conventions 22 percent of the people in this country have made up their mind how to vote based on the national conventions of the parties. That makes these conventions very relevant to America. Over one-out-of-five decide how to vote based on the conventions.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    But you have the top corporations, like Philip Morris, Microsoft involved with major litigation. They are the top contributors to the Republican Party. How is anyone to think this is anything but buying legislation that’s favorable to them, that low-level criminals cannot afford?

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Well, when a corporation puts a billboard up or a television ad that somebody sees, do you think they’re buying legislation? Corporations have to advertise. They have to sponsor things. They have to project their mark and their trademark and their business position. I mean, it’s no different than that. They entertain. They try to get people familiar with them. A convention is a great place to do that. There are 45,000 people have come to Philadelphia for this event.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    But regular people cannot get into these events. You need all sorts of credentials to come to any of the corporate-sponsored events.

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    It depends on what event you’re talking about. For example, we had an event last Thursday night in a parking lot, where we had hot dogs and popcorn. We dedicated a mural to the people of the City of Philadelphia talking about the Underground Railroad, and we had people from all over the City of Philadelphia. There was no admission to it. It filled up a parking lot. There was a picture of it in the Philadelphia paper today. I recommend it to you.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    But you’re getting a level of sponsorship now that you’ve set up a whole new category called “the Regents” for these top-level contributors. What about the criticism that this is no longer about democracy, this is about paying for legislation and getting it?

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Well, there’s no link between people supporting a party and its purposes, which is to inform the American people what it stands for, and legislation. I mean, every contribution is reported. If — it’s illegal for someone to attempt to buy legislation. You know what? If there’s some congressman or senator or somebody that somebody thinks is on the take, that’s against the law, and they ought to be prosecuted.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    What about the latest controversy over Dick Cheney not voting in support of anti-apartheid legislation. What does that say to people around this country, not just African Americans, but to people who care about democracy?

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Well, he has a very good explanation. When he voted the way he did, he noted that the American [sic] National Congress was closely identified with the Communist Party in South Africa and the Communist Party elsewhere. He has said, and he said today, that he’s a great admirer of Nelson Mandela, and that vote might be very different today if he were casting it today with the ANC being what it is today. Thank you.

    AMY GOODMAN:

    Last question, that is the issue of Dick Cheney not supporting a ban on plastic guns that even the NRA supported, not supporting a ban on cop killer bullets.

    JIM NICHOLSON:

    Actually, those bullets are used by a lot of police forces.

AMY GOODMAN:

And you were just listening to Jim Nicholson, who is Chair of the Republican National Committee, and he is the one who is organizing this week’s extravaganza here in Philadelphia.

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