AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine’s senior senator, Olympia Snowe, celebrated a 25th anniversary of her congressional tenure Saturday by delivering a crowd-pleasing call for an all-out election effort at the Republican State Convention.

Finding reasons for optimism up and down the 2004 ticket, Snowe and junior colleague Susan Collins roused hundred of convention delegates with tributes to the first-term accomplishments of President Bush.

The two senators, neither of whom is up for election this year, also sketched visions of what other GOP officeholders could accomplish if Maine adds to the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and loosens the Democratic Party’s grip on state government.

Urging the activist audience to make this “the best year ever for the Maine Republican Party,” Snowe said that despite the technological emphasis in modern campaigning, people hold the key.

“It will require the human voice and commitment that will slice through the clutter,” she said as delegates spent a second day on organizational chores designed to guide the party through the late summer national convention in New York City and into the fall elections.

Bush has earned a second term, Snowe suggested, by implementing a “positive and compassionate domestic agenda” that brought about lower taxes and Medicare modernization while recasting the nation’s preparation and response regarding threats from abroad.

Collins sounded a similar theme in her remarks, crediting the president for pushing tax relief and accountability in education and for seeking to bolster health care for the elderly and support for the military.

She said Bush had also succeeded in restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House, drawing cheers.

The two-day convention offered special tributes to Snowe, one of Maine’s most successful politicians, who was accompanied by her husband, former Gov. John McKernan.

Snowe, 57, served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1973 to 1977 and in the Maine Senate from 1977 to 1979.

In 1979, she moved to the U.S. House of Representatives and represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District until 1995, when she moved to the U.S. Senate.

She said Saturday she was making her 14th state convention address.

While echoing numerous other speakers in hailing U.S. initiatives overseas, Snowe said she agreed with the president that “recent reprehensible revelations” had stained the nation’s honor but that a vast majority of American military personnel “have performed superbly.”

The two senators treated Democratic president hopeful John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, with scorn and ridicule, painting him as inconsistent and unsteady.

Collins also sought to rally the Republican faithful against the political perils she said were posed by interest groups aligned with the Democrats.

Maine Democrats hold a three-day state convention next weekend in Portland.

AP-ES-05-15-04 1252EDT



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