PHILADELPHIA — Republicans opened their quadrennial national convention in Philadelphia Monday at which they will nominate Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney for vice president.
It is the sixth Republican National Convention in Philadelphia—America's fifth most populous city—and the first since 1948 when the Republicans nominated Thomas Dewey for president.
Bush enters the convention leading his Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, in most opinion polls.
Following are key facts about this year's convention:
DELEGATES: Attending the convention are 2,066 delegates and 2,066 alternates. Most delegates were selected in the presidential primaries. A simple majority is needed to nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates. The delegates will be vastly outnumbered by the 16,000 accredited media representatives, including about 4,000 from overseas. A total of 45,000 people are expected to come to Philadelphia for the convention.
VENUE: The Republicans are meeting in the First Union Center, the home of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers and the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia 76ers. The arena was completed in 1996.
COST: The total cost of the convention is estimated at $65 million, with $13.3 million provided by the federal government. Many corporations also contributed to convention costs.
SCHEDULE: The convention's opening night Monday features speeches by Bush's wife, Laura, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell.
Tuesday night's session includes a speech by Gulf War commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf from aboard the USS New Jersey, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, Bush's defeated rival for the Republican nomination.
On Wednesday night, vice presidential nominee Cheney delivers his acceptance speech.
The Thursday night session includes the convention highlight—the acceptance speech by Bush. Bush's communications director, Karen Hughes, said the speech was about 30 minutes long, without accounting for applause.
ROLL CALL: The Republicans will break with tradition in the roll call of states for the presidential nomination. This year, they plan to poll the delegates over four nights, rather than just one. Bush is expected to be put over the top Wednesday for the delegates needed for nomination.
For at least two decades, presidential nominations have been settled in the primaries rather than at the nominating conventions themselves, where senior party officials once wielded great clout in the selection process.
PLATFORM: Republicans approved a platform with a kinder, gentler tone on issues such as immigration and education policy, even as hard-line conservatives retained tough planks against abortion, homosexuality and sex education.
Despite the long hours of debate over the document, it is considered unlikely that much of it will be implemented if Bush is elected president.
PROTESTS: Protest organizers have hoped for tens of thousands of demonstrators at the convention, topping the numbers seen at Vietnam-era demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and the 1972 Republican convention in Miami Beach.
But their efforts Sunday did not live up to expectations as barely 5,000 activists rallied on the eve of the convention to draw attention to corporate money in politics, the death penalty and many other causes in a peaceful protest.
Police were out in force, keeping a careful eye on several black-clad and masked anarchists in the crowd, but they caused no disruption. Police Commissioner John Timoney said he was "cautiously optimistic" that calm would prevail.
HISTORY: Republicans have returned to the city where they held their first presidential nominating convention in 1856 to select John Fremont. The Republicans also met in Philadelphia in 1872 to renominate President Ulysses S. Grant and in 1900 to renominate President William McKinley. Both won re-election. In 1940, the Republicans met in Philadelphia to select political neophyte Wendell Willkie, who lost the election to President Franklin Roosevelt.
At their last Philadelphia convention in 1948, the Republicans nominated New York Gov. Thomas Dewey. Although he had been the party's unsuccessful presidential nominee in 1944, Dewey appeared a shoo-in for the White House. But shortly after the Republican gathering, Philadelphia also hosted the 1948 Democratic National Convention that nominated President Harry Truman. After a whistle-stop "Give 'em hell" campaign, Truman beat Dewey in one of the biggest political upsets in American history.
PHILADELPHIA: The city of 1.4 million people has played a prominent part in U.S. history. The birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and home of the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia was also the U.S. capital from 1790 to 1800. After rebounding from a near brush with bankruptcy in the early 1990s, the heavily Democratic city is basking in its role as host to the Republicans, with civic leaders hailing the event as a symbol of its revival.