Bush gets prime time, but not applause

Republicans had planned for President George Bush’s six-minute video address from the White House to their convention Tuesday to be over before television networks began airing the proceedings.

The plan backfired when NBC replayed the president’s speech at the opening of their coverage, but without the audio of cheering delegates in the hall that Bush and viewers who saw the speech live on cable had heard.

The NBC version had Bush standing in silence and smiling for long, awkward periods.

Bush’s remarks were well received in the hall, especially when he praised McCain’s preparedness for office and his independent streak.

NBC anchor Brian Williams apologized for the audio flub. The network and its cable operation, MSNBC, have been criticized for an anti-Republican tone, heightening sensitivity to such a convention-week gaffe.

With Bush’s ratings among the lowest recorded for any president, the brief video address introduced by first lady Laura Bush was all the honor paid to the party’s two-term, incumbent president.

So when Hurricane Gustav began its track toward the Gulf Coast, Republicans were happy to excuse Bush from speaking so he could focus his attention on the kind of storm he was blamed for ignoring three years ago.

“The bottom line is that Republicans greatly admire President Bush and wish there were a few other examples of real success that had been achieved,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

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