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Sunday Morning News
USS Ronald Reagan Commemorates Former President's 90th BirthdayAired March 4, 2001 - 8:07 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: In the path of the winter storm is our own Kelly Wallace. She's not covering the weather, but rather she's at the naval shipyard in Newport News, Virginia for today's christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.
Kelly, tell us about it.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, that's right. You know, the winds have died down a bit here in Newport News, but we're still waiting for a decision about whether the ceremonies will be moved inside or if they will remain outside. But, you know, the weather is not really dampening spirits here.
This is an unprecedented day. It will be the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier will be named in honor of a living U.S. president. And later this afternoon, Nancy Reagan will break the traditional bottle of champagne and at that time the ship you see before me will be christened in her husband's name, of course, that is Ronald Reagan.
Now, this ship will actually launch about six days from now but construction will not be fully completed for about another two years and then it will be formally turned over to the Navy. To give you some perspective of the size and scope of this ship being billed as the most modern aircraft carrier in the world. It towers about 20 stories above the water. It is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It will be home to about 6,000 Navy men and women. About 80 planes can be aboard that ship and it is expected to last about 50 years.
Now, Ronald Reagan, of course, battling Alzheimer's Disease, will not be here. But a number of VIPs will and they will be here to pay tribute to a man who is recognized as making rebuilding the military a number one priority during his eight years in the White House. And some of those dignitaries that will be on hand include the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, as well as, of course, President and Mrs. Bush.
As you know, of course, President Bush's father, former President Bush, served as Ronald Reagan's Vice President. Mr. Bush certainly looking at Ronald Reagan as a hero of sorts. The President expected in his remarks to pay tribute to Ronald Reagan, to look at how he changed the country for the better, according to White House aides, and how he strengthened defense. About 1,000 Navy men and women and their families expected to be here. There will be a military fly over as well, the ceremony expected to get underway, Kyra, about two o'clock this afternoon.
PHILLIPS: Kelly, you mentioned a lot of the connections between Ronald Reagan and the Bush family. Do you think President Bush is modeling his presidency in any way after Ronald Reagan?
WALLACE: It appears he is in some ways, especially at the start. White House aides have said they definitely looked at how Ronald Reagan started off in the White House back in 1981 and have modeled in some way the approach President Bush has taken during his first weeks in the White House.
Ronald Reagan, back in 1981, focused on a limited number of issues such as cutting taxes, rebuilding the military and kept hammering away on those issues week after week, month after month, often getting out of Washington and taking his message on the road.
Of course, as you know, Kyra, what we are seeing from President Bush, he's talking about tax cuts, he's talking about beefing up the military as well as other issues, and he is loving getting out of Washington and traveling around the country to spread that message. So it appears he is modeling himself a bit after Ronald Reagan -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Kelly Wallace live from Virginia, thanks so much.
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