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Bush’s Speech a Grand Old Party for County Loyalists

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Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Republican Party--at least the part that didn’t go to New Orleans--gathered in Garden Grove on Thursday night, joining in the cheers and applause at the national convention through a bigger-than-life televised image of their nominee.

About 300 people stood and watched Vice President George Bush’s speech in a red-white-and-blue bedecked hotel ballroom, plastered with campaign signs for the county’s local candidates as well as Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) and the presidential ticket of Bush and Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle.

And most, it seemed, were stirred beyond expectation by the oratory of their man.

‘A Grand Slam’

“They said he had to hit a home run tonight; I think he hit a grand slam,” said Peter F. Buffa, a Costa Mesa councilman. “He gave out more of his platform in that speech than (Democratic presidential nominee) Michael Dukakis has given in a whole year.”

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Many of the foot soldiers who remained in Orange County played down the importance of Bush’s speech, although it has been widely regarded as critical to his campaign. When it was over, the reactions ranged from surprise to joy and relief.

Howard Ezell, western regional commissioner for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, turned around after one of Bush’s one-liners and said, “That’s four in a row! Who wrote this speech?”

When it was over, Ezell said that “it was as good as any speech Ronald Reagan has given. It had humor and humility and substance and . . . vulnerability.

“I think he is now out front of the shadow he has had for eight years,” Ezell said. “He has shown what he really is.”

Bush was so good, Republican John L. Hastings said he was even surprised. “I didn’t know he was that good of a speaker,” he said. “I think he was his own man, and he got out from under that Reagan shadow.”

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