Originally created 06/26/04

Miller will speak at GOP convention



WASHINGTON - Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, the highest-profile Democrat to endorse President Bush for re-election, will speak at the Republican National Convention later this summer, a congressional aide said Friday.

According to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mr. Miller will give his address on Wednesday night of the convention in New York. The Bush-Cheney campaign was expected to make an official announcement later in the day. The convention will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

The speech by Mr. Miller, a former two-term governor, comes 12 years after he delivered the keynote address for Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Mr. Miller, who is retiring in January, has voted with Republicans more often than with his party and has been a key sponsor of many of Mr. Bush's top legislative priorities, including the Republican's tax cuts and education plan.

In May, Mr. Miller spoke at the Georgia Republican convention and criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as an "out-of-touch ultraliberal from Taxachusetts" whose foreign and domestic policies would seriously weaken the country.

"I'm afraid that my old Democratic 'ties that bind' have become unraveled," Mr. Miller said.

In 2001, Mr. Miller had told a Georgia Democratic Party gathering that Mr. Kerry, the four-term Massachusetts senator and decorated Vietnam War veteran, was "an authentic" American hero who had worked to strengthen the military.

Mr. Miller's recent book, A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, is now a national bestseller. In it, he assails members of his own party, including Mr. Clinton.

Democratic Rep. John Lewis, the dean of Georgia's congressional delegation, called Mr. Miller's decision to speak at the convention "a shame and a disgrace."

Bobby Kahn, the chairman of Georgia's Democratic Party, said he wasn't surprised.

"Maybe I'll switch to the Republican Party so I can speak at the Democratic Convention and bash Bush," Mr. Kahn said. "It makes about as much sense."

Mr. Kahn was top aide to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who appointed Mr. Miller after the death of Mr. Miller's predecessor, Republican Paul Coverdell.

"He said he would be independent, and he was for a while, but he hasn't been lately," Mr. Kahn said of Mr. Miller. "He's been in lockstep with the Republicans, and I don't know what's happened to him. It's really kind of sad."