Bush's rallying call for re-election

US President George Bush was tonight ready to call on the American people to send him back to the White House for another term.

US President George Bush was tonight ready to call on the American people to send him back to the White House for another term.

In a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention he will argue that he is a war president best suited to lead the nation in the fight against international terrorism.

Mr Bush will accept his nomination as party candidate for re-election and his speech will mark the end of the four day convention in New York.

Early today, delegates heard from Vice President Dick Cheney who delivered a stinging attack on Democratic election challenger Senator John Kerry.

Mr Cheney said the Massachusetts Senator, and decorated Vietnam war veteran, had been weak on defence and inconsistent on other policies.

Mr Bush and Mr Kerry are neck and neck in the latest polls, with just two months to go before the election.

While the speeches have gone on inside Madison Square Garden, around 1,800 people have been arrested on the surrounding streets since the weekend – a record for a political convention.

Mr Bush arrived in New York at the end of a three-day, six-state campaign tour, early on Thursday and met with a group of firefighters in Queens.

It is not known whether he will stay in the city after delivering his 40 minute convention speech, at Madison Square Garden, just four miles from the site where the twin towers stood before being destroyed on September 11.

Mr Bush’s long-time adviser Karen Hughes said the speech would be “optimistic”, “future-oriented” and “visionary”.

He has spent two hours rehearsing in the theatre of the White House residence and practised during the day inside Madison Square Garden.

Construction workers toiled through the night to build a new stage in the centre of the arena from where Mr Bush will speak.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said: “He’s making, maybe, some minor changes.

“This will very much be a forward-looking speech that focuses on his vision for the future and his agenda for the next four years.

“I think the president will talk about his convictions and beliefs. And he will also talk about what we have achieved over the last four years.

“But most of the speech will focus on his agenda for building a safer world and a more hopeful America.”

He added that Mr Bush would “talk about how we’ve been through a lot over the last four years, and he’ll talk about how, because of the leadership that he’s provided, we’ve risen to meet the challenges that we’ve faced”.

Mr Bush is also expected to say that changes in the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan are steps toward democratic reforms throughout that region.

Early today Mr Cheney said: “Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn’t appear to understand how the world has changed.

“He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror, as though al-Qaida will be impressed with our softer side.

“My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked, and faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us. We cannot wait for the next attack. We must do everything we can to prevent it and that includes the use of military force.”

Also to speak on the third night of the convention was a Democratic Senator, Zell Miller.

He listed a series of defence initiatives he said Senator Kerry opposed during his time in the Senate.

“This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. US forces armed with what? Spit balls?”

The former Marine from Georgia accused his own party of elevating politics over national security, adding: “In this hour of danger our president has had the courage to stand up.

“And this Democrat is proud to stand up with him.”

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