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The Republican Convention in NY envokes 9-11, and the war on Terrorism


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Republicans Invoke 9/11 During Convention Opening

GOP Touts Bush's Leadership in Terror War

By William Branigin

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, August 30, 2004; 2:25 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 30 -- Republicans opened their national convention Monday under heavy security, with party leaders repeatedly invoking the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center here and rallying support for President Bush's leadership in the war on terrorism.

"We've shown the world that New York can never be defeated," said the city's Republican mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, in one of the opening speeches after the convention was gaveled to order at 10 a.m. in Madison Square Garden. He said Bush's choice of New York to host the GOP's nominating convention for the first time "was a show of faith that required courage and vision and one that all New Yorkers will not forget."

The names of Bush and Vice President Cheney were formally placed in nomination as the Republican candidates to run for reelection against Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and vice presidential nominee John Edwards in the Nov. 2 election. Bush, who is campaigning in New Hampshire and Michigan on Monday, is scheduled to formally accept the nomination in a speech Thursday night.

Bush's name was placed in nomination by a Hispanic delegate from the battleground state of Ohio, who hailed Bush as "a strong and compassionate leader." The assembled Republicans, among the nearly 5,000 delegates and alternates in attendance, then erupted in cheers and chanted, "Four more years."

Cheney's name was subsequently placed in nomination by a delegate from his home state of Wyoming. With his wife, Lynne Cheney, by his side, the vice president rose from his seat on the convention floor and waved to acknowledge the applause.

The convention chairman, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, then began the traditional roll call of the states.

In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Bush said the first four years of his presidency have been "defined by 9/11" and cautioned that the war on terrorism, specifically against the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, will continue indefinitely.

"I don't think you can win it," he said. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

He said he has "a two-pronged strategy" to preempt future attacks by staying on the offensive in the near term and to "spread freedom and liberty" around the world in the long term.

"The country must never yield, must never show weakness, must continue to lead to find the al Qaeda affiliates who are hiding around the world and who want to harm us, and bring them to justice," Bush said.

Edwards criticized Bush for his remarks Monday, asserting that the Democrats have a better plan to make the country safer.

"After months of listening to the Republicans base their campaign on their singular ability to win the war on terror, the president now says we can't win the war on terrorism," Edwards said in a statement issued in Wilmington, N.C. "This is no time to declare defeat -- it won't be easy and it won't be quick, but we have a comprehensive long-term plan to make America safer. And that's a difference."

As a result of the Sept. 11 attack on New York, Bloomberg told the convention's opening session, "our knees buckled, but we stayed on our feet, and we showed that our dreams, like our liberties, will never be lost to violence or hate." He said the city "remains in the front line in the war on terror" and that Bush "deserves our support" in leading that war.

Some Sept. 11 survivors and family members have charged that the Republicans were exploiting the tragedy for political gain by holding their convention here, and the party has said publicly that the city was chosen last year because it offered "the best package of goods and services" for the convention, including hotels, the Madison Square Garden complex, other venues and event funding.

But speakers today abandoned any defensiveness about Sept. 11, portraying the convention here as a vote of confidence in New York City and a defiant response to the terrorists who have targeted it.

Former New York police commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who headed the 41,000-member uniformed force at the time of the attack, suggested today that the GOP's choice of the venue headed off a move by the Democrats to hold their own nominating convention here.

"If the Republicans didn't come to New York, the Democrats were thinking about coming to New York," he told a press briefing.

"I personally think this is a special place for the convention to be with regard to 9/11," he said, adding, "You can't say 9/11 didn't happen."

Kerik, who served as a senior adviser in Iraq for four months last year, said Bush had shown his mettle by coming to New York and standing at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center towers three days after the attack. He said he was concerned at the time about follow-up attacks and the air quality, among other things, and that he had not wanted Bush to come.

"I'd say the president had enormous courage in coming to New York on Sept. 14," Kerik said.

Kerik said New York City remains under "an imminent threat" of attack by terrorists, but he asserted that America is safer today than it was three years ago as a result of Bush's policies.

Asked how declarations of a safer country could be reconciled with the unprecedented security for this week's convention here, Kerik said, "I don't think this is a contradiction; I think it's a reality." He said al Qaeda wants to carry out an attack that would affect the U.S. presidential election, and that the government is determined to prevent that.

"They're not going to influence this election like they did in Spain," Kerik said, referring to the victory of Spain's opposition Socialist Party three days after the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid on March 11.

Among those addressing the convention tonight is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who competed with Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries.

In interviews on morning news shows, McCain repeated his criticism of attack ads against Kerry by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, calling the ads "dishonest and dishonorable" for questioning actions during the Vietnam War for which Kerry won medals for valor and three Purple Hearts. But McCain said Kerry's protests against the war after leaving the Navy were fair game for the current election campaig

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