By K Kaufmann, Chris Kotterman and Ryan Spass
NEW YORK – Drawing from his and the nation’s past, invoking even a Democrat and the memories of the World Trade Center, President Bush described his vision of the nation’s future in accepting his Republican Party’s renomination Thursday.
Bush’s speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention was heavy on his planned domestic agenda, but didn’t neglect the dominant theme of the four days in New York — terrorism and the nation’s security.
He said he will “never relent in defending America, whatever it takes,” and evoked a “resolute president,” Democrat Harry Truman, as an example of America’s success in helping to spread democracy.
“By promising liberty abroad, we will build a safer world,” he told the thousands of gathered partisans in Madison Square Garden who cheered nearly every line.
“I believe that America is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century. I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty,” he said. “I believe all these things because freedom is not America’s gift to the world, it is the Almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in this world.”
But it was the nation’s internal struggles that dominated his speech. He promised a “simpler, fairer” tax code, medical liability insurance reform, tax credits for small business health savings accounts and increased enrollment for children in health insurance programs. He spoke in Spanish a paraphrase of his signature education program, “No dejaremos a ningun nino atras. We will leave no child behind.”
“I am running with a compassionate conservative philosophy: that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives,” he said.
It was Maryland, it appeared, that began the cheer that ushered in the biographical video aired just before Bush took the stage: “We want Bush,” the delegates chanted, and the slogan began to swell through the hall.
Just that video moved Luis Borunda to tears, and he stood riveted as the president spoke.
“When he speaks he speaks from the heart,” said Borunda, a delegate from Baltimore and founder of Hispanic Republicans of Maryland. “He says what a leader has to say. He does what a leader has to do.”
Maryland Republican Chairman John Kane said Bush’s speech was exactly right.
“I think the president captured the heart and soul of Marylanders and Americans,” he said.
Delegate Walter Hayes agreed, saying: “We have to finish what we started. If we don’t stand up for our beliefs we can’t be trusted in the world.” The only way to bring peace to the Middle East, he said, is Bush’s way, “to bring more and more freedom.”
During the speech, Maryland also was unpleasantly surprised by the forced removal of a kicking, screaming protester. The woman whacked some delegation members as she was carried out of the hall.
But nothing dampened their enthusiasm on the big night.
“We’ve been here for five days,” said Maryland state Sen. Edward J. Pipkin of Queen Anne’s County. “Protesters had their time we had ours. One or two individuals are not going to spoil it.”
The delegation ended the night as though they were fans of the winning team at a sporting event: They tore down the goal post – or at least the Maryland standard that marked their section since Monday. – 30 – CNS-9-3-04