NEW YORK – First and foremost, delegates to the Republican National Convention (search) want their next president — whoever that may be — to focus on fighting terrorism, an Associated Press survey found.
The economy and jobs was the next issue most often mentioned, followed by taxes, according to AP interviews with about 2,000 of the 2,500-plus convention delegates.
The delegates, who this week will formally name President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (search) as the GOP's presidential ticket, were asked to rank what they thought should be the next administration's top three priorities, regardless of who wins in November.
About 62 percent of delegates listed "fighting terrorism" among their top three priorities. Nearly half of the delegates, including Margaret Gartelman of West Greenwich, R.I., said it was their top choice.
"If we're not safe, nothing else seems to matter," Gartelman said.
More than 56 percent said the economy should be a top-three priority for the next president, followed by taxes, 25 percent, and Iraq, 23 percent. Many delegates linked the terror fight and Iraq as equally important.
"There's no way we should change horses in the middle of it," said Michael Allen, of Cleves, Ohio. "I think voters will come to the same conclusion."
Political conventions are attended by the most active and loyal party supporters, so the GOP priorities differed from those of Democratic delegates interviewed by the AP before their party's convention in Boston last month. Democrats ranked the economy, health care and Iraq as their top three priorities.
On other issues:
— About 72 percent of Republican delegates in the AP survey said they opposed same sex nuptials and 3 percent favored. Remaining delegates declined to answer the question or had no opinion.
Among Democrats, about 41 percent supported gay marriage, 21 percent opposed, with no response for remaining delegates.
— Some 58 percent of Republican delegates said they were against abortion rights, 15 percent were for it, and 27 percent had no response or decline to answer. That contrasts with the 74 percent of Democratic delegates who said they favored abortion rights.
— About half of GOP delegates didn't think independent candidate Ralph Nader would take enough votes away from Democratic contender John Kerry to cost Kerry the election. Among Democratic delegates, two-thirds held a similar view.