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The secret's out: It will be Bush in the round

August 28, 2004|Elizabeth Jensen | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Although most of the Republican National Convention will take place next week from a traditional large podium with a video screen backdrop, President Bush will accept his nomination from a more humanly scaled round stage, surrounded by delegates.

Republican officials on Friday finally took the wraps off the more intimate setup, which is also meant to give TV viewers a "high-energy" sense of the proceedings. For weeks the stage had been a closely guarded secret, with even some television producers sworn to keep quiet. The floor of New York's Madison Square Garden, where the convention takes place, will be reconfigured overnight in advance of the Thursday speech.

The smaller theater-in-the-round stage, a first for a convention, will be 20 feet in diameter, with steps leading down to the delegates. The President's lectern will have a "Deco inspired" look, according to the GOP.

In other ways, the convention floor has a standard setup, with red carpeting and blue cushioned chairs. Entertainment acts in between the official speakers will perform on a separate large circular stage, off to the side of the podium, which rises by hydraulic lift from beneath the convention floor.

Unlike at the Democratic National Convention, the floor won't be broken up by a CNN reporting platform. CNN had sole permission among media outlets for that ringside seat in Boston but in New York will be reporting from a platform in the seats overlooking the floor, as well as from a traditional sky box.

On the video screens that dominate the back of the main speaker podium, delegates and TV viewers will see something else new this year: live and taped reports from what the Republicans are calling "CJs," for convention jockeys. The five emcees, who otherwise hold jobs as Republican spokespeople, will "report" from inside the convention, interviewing delegates and celebrities, and introducing reports from across the country.

The emcees include Christine Iverson, a former television news reporter and anchor who now is the Republican National Committee's press secretary.

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