Greeting Bush were enthusiastic crowds - from the several thousand who stood at Station Square along the Monongahela River here to the hundreds who awaited him in small Pennsylvania towns such as Beaver and Wampum.
In Pittsburgh, people chanted "No more Gore, no more Gore," and waved hand-painted signs proclaiming "We have got a winner" and "The unborn for Bush/Cheney."
"I can't tell you how energized I am about the future of our party," Bush said. "We need your help. We want you by our side as we march across America."
Moving quickly, he rattled off his agenda at each stop: reforming education, boosting the armed services, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, and cutting taxes.
"It's not the government's money," he said to cheers and applause in Pittsburgh. "The surplus is the people's money."
Bush and his party traveled in a pair of 1928, wood-paneled Norfolk Southern cars at the end of a 16-car train. He spoke at each stop from the back of the last car.
Still excited about his Thursday night speech in which he accepted his party's nomination, the normally early-to-bed Bush confessed that he stayed up until 1:30 a.m., celebrating with family members at his hotel suite in Philadelphia.
"A modern-day record for me," Bush said.
Looking ahead to the next several weeks of the campaign, Bush said he wanted to talk about his specific proposals as much as possible so that he can claim a mandate for his program if elected.
"I'm going to keep saying it over and over again, so that should I become the president I will be able to stand up in front of the Congress and say the American people heard what I said," he said.
"They understand the platform. Now let's get it done. That's what the campaign is all about."
Bush looked to bolster his lead in the polls over Democrat Al Gore - before Gore and the Democrats can seize the national spotlight in coming days and use it to grab back a piece of popular opinion.
Gore is scheduled to name his running mate Tuesday, and his party will hold its four-day national convention the following week in Los Angeles.
Cheney told a morning session of the Republican National Committee in Philadelphia that polls showing the Republicans ahead are welcome, but he cautioned against complacency.
"We can't take anything for granted," he said. "Right now the polls look great. The opposition is obviously shell-shocked. It will be a tough campaign. This crew is not likely to steal off into the sunset."
"I think we can keep the momentum alive," Bush said. "The main thing to do is to keep our eyes on the finish line. . . . This is going to be a tough, close election."
At a rally at Northeast Philadelphia Airport yesterday, Gov. Ridge boasted that Bush and the convention had succeeded in putting a new face on the Grand Old Party.
"We have a new Republican Party," Ridge said. "A party of inclusion . . . a party interested in attacking problems rather than attacking people. A party that's interested in tackling the tough issues. We've got a great team to do just that."
And Cheney proclaimed their campaign a crusade.
"We're embarked now on a great crusade," Cheney said in Philadelphia. "We're going to start here . . . and take this campaign all across this country."
Steven Thomma's e-mail address is sthomma