Thursday, September 2, 2004

Cheney goes on offensive



By David Espo
The Associated Press

Cheney
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the delegates at the Republican National Convention.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
NEW YORK - Democratic Sen. Zell Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney unleashed a stinging attack on Sen. John Kerry on Wednesday night, ridiculing him as a politician who has made a career out of changing his mind.

Miller, delivering the Republican National Convention keynote address, said of Kerry: "More wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure."

"As a war protester, Kerry blamed our military," the Georgia senator said in a fiery speech that drew repeated ovations from the GOP delegates in the hall. "As a senator, he voted to weaken our military."

The vice president hailed President Bush as a "superb commander in chief" who has helped restore the economy and will lead the nation to victory in the war on terror. Bush "does not deal in empty threats and half measures," Cheney said in a prime-time speech at the convention podium delivered to a nationwide television audience.

TV TIMES

Prime-time television coverage of the Republican National Convention:

CBS: 10-11 p.m.

NBC: 10-11 p.m.

ABC: 10-11 p.m.

Fox News: 8-11 p.m. with regularly scheduled programs interrupted by speeches and interviews from the convention site.

CNN: 8-11 p.m. with regularly scheduled programs interrupted by speeches and interviews from the convention site.

MSNBC: 8-11 p.m.

PBS: 8-11 p.m.

C-SPAN: Gavel-to-gavel coverage continues.

Republicans launched their double-barreled attack on Bush's Democratic opponent as the president campaigned his way into the convention city, collecting the endorsement of the union representing New York's 8,600 firefighters, many of whom risked their lives on Sept. 11. His eyes misted as he stood among them and held a black fire helmet labeled "Commander in Chief."

"Four more years," they shouted - echoing the chants that floated up from the convention floor at Madison Square Garden as delegates acclaimed the Bush-Cheney ticket for another term.

The speeches by Cheney and Miller were the main events of the evening.

For a while, the convention moved 20 years back in time as delegates took in a tribute to Ronald Reagan, who died this year. They cheered at video clips of the late president at his most forceful, then again when they saw former President George H.W. Bush eulogizing him in June. The convention floor bloomed with thousands of blue placards that read "Win One for The Gipper."

Cheney performed the traditional vice president's role in his turn at the podium, praising the man at the top of the ticket while denigrating the leader of the political opposition. "Time and again, he has made the wrong call on national security," the vice president said of Kerry.

"On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats," Cheney said. "But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. His back and forth reflects a habit of indecision - and sends a message of confusion."

With two months remaining in a close election, and the pool of undecided voters a small one, Republicans relished the opportunity to place a Democrat out front at their convention. They had their man in Miller, a conservative ex-Marine who minces no words and delivered a keynote address a dozen years ago in the same hall in service of Democrat Bill Clinton.

ELECTION COVERAGE
Cheney goes on offensive
Senator, wife heap praise
Speeches elicit responses
Young voters get own event
Bush enlists Buckeye aid
Protest arrests set record
Notes from New York
Election special section
Convention blog watch
Convention photo gallery

Remarks by:
Rob Portman
Elaine Chao
Mitch McConnell
"In this hour of danger, our president has had the courage to stand up. And this Democrat is proud to stand up with him," the Georgia lawmaker said.

Outside the heavily defended hall, police watched warily as demonstrators waving pink slips formed a line three miles long in Manhattan to protest the Bush administration's economic policies. Fewer than a dozen arrests were reported, one day after police took into custody more than 1,000 demonstrators who had threatened to march on the convention hall.

A small group of AIDS activists managed to penetrate the Garden itself during the morning, before the convention session had begun for the day. They blew whistles and chanted, "Bush kills," at a morning session of GOP youths before being hustled from the floor.

Kerry ended a brief stint on the campaign sidelines, defying tradition by making an appearance while his rival's national convention was in progress.

"Extremism has gained momentum" as a result of administration missteps in Iraq, the Democratic nominee told a national convention of the American Legion, before adding that the war on terror is a winnable one with the right policies in place.

"When it comes to Iraq, it's not that I would have done one thing differently - I would have done almost everything differently," Kerry said.

Republicans took care to stipulate they weren't questioning the patriotism of Bush's rival, who won five military medals in the Vietnam War.

But their attack was unsparing as they dissected his record on war and taxes over a 35-year career in politics, from lieutenant governor in Massachusetts to four terms in the Senate.

"During his 20 years in Washington, John Kerry never met a tax increase he didn't like," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said. "This is one place where John Kerry never flip-flops."

"I'm proud to be from Massachusetts, where John Kerry will be the junior senator until 2008," taunted Gov. Mitt Romney.

Cheney and Miller did the heavy lifting, though, on the third night of a convention carefully scripted to spit-polish Bush's image as a commander in chief worthy of four more years while wounding his Democratic challenger.

"In all that we do, we will never lose sight of the greatest challenge of our time: preserving the freedom and security of this nation against determined enemies," the vice president said.



ELECTION 2004
Cheney goes on offensive
Senator, wife heap praise on Bush
GOP speeches elicit strong responses
Young voters get own event
Bush enlists aid of famous Buckeyes
Protest arrests set record
Notes from New York
Remarks by Rob Portman
Remarks by Elaine Chao
Remarks by Mitch McConnell

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