NEW YORK – As he stood surrounded by his Republican constituents
at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, President
Bush accepted the presidential re-nomination with a pledge to
“never relent in defending America, whatever it takes,” and to
build a safer world and a more hopeful America

While the “defense of America” also included promises to improve
education, the economy and healthcare, Bush’s foremost concern was
the importance of fighting terrorism and fixing Iraq.

Reiterating a theme he has invoked through the campaign thus
far, Bush reminded the audience of his conviction in preventing a
repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 bombings.

“Three days after Sept. 11, I stood where Americans died, in the
ruins of the Twin Towers,” Bush said. “Since that day, I wake up
every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I
will never relent in defending America – whatever it takes.”

Delegates agreed with Bush’s priorities. “Keeping America safe
is number one,” said Michigan delegate Holly Hughes, an incoming
member of the Republican National Committee. “You don’t come to New
York City and not think about that.”

Although protesters took issue with the gamut of Bush’s
policies, many found his use of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,
2001, as opportunistic and offensive.

“This is just exploitation of these tragedies and furthering his
imperialistic agenda,” said Brendan Baker, a member of Act Now to
Stop War and End Racism, a political activist group that has
positioned itself behind issues from affirmative action to the war
in Iraq.

Encouraged by success in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
Iraq and Libya, Bush said he would continue to financially support
military development programs.

While hardly resembling the harsh invective put forth by
speakers Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga)
Wednesday night, Bush questioned Democratic presidential nominee
Sen. John Kerry’s commitment to supporting troops in combat.

Bush continued his support and justification of the Iraq war by
vilifying Saddam Hussein and “his record of aggression and support
for terror.” Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, responded to
Republican attacks on his patriotism and fitness to serve as
commander-in-chief by saying, “I’m not going to have my commitment
to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve
when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into
Iraq.”

Kerry, who addressed a crowd of supporters in Ohio during a
midnight campaign rally shortly after Bush’s speech, also attacked
the president’s own presidential fitness in regard to the millions
of lost jobs, the inadequate health care and the Saudi collusion
that he associates with the Bush administration.

Despite the Democratic claim that Bush has done little for his
constituents, the president outlined domestic plan for the upcoming
term.

He said he wants to sharpen the country’s competitive edge in
the global economy and create jobs by reducing regulation, taxes
and federal spending.

To accomplish this competitiveness, he plans on improving
education across the board, starting with the No Child Left Behind
Act.

“Because we acted, children are making sustained progress in
reading and math,” Bush said. “America’s schools are getting
better.”

Furthering his pledged devotion to bettering education, Bush
outlined a plan to get students through high school and college
through early intervention programs and by expanding Pell grants,
which give scholarships to financially needy students. In the first
half of his term, Bush’s opponents criticized him for decreasing
the grants to students.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the Republican Party has higher
education as a top priority … the Democrats, I think, have other
priorities – I think you can see it in some budget priorities at
the state level, and I think the Kerry platform puts less of an
emphasis on higher education as well,” said University of Michigan
Regent and Michigan delegate Andrew Richner.

“He’s going to be putting more money into Pell grants and making
education more affordable.”

Speaking specifically about the University, Richner said, “Under
Republican leadership, and under this president’s leadership, the
University of Michigan research funding has increased dramatically.
Last year we received over 700 million in research funding,
particularly from the (National Institutes of Health).”

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