Bush Vows to 'Confront Threats to America'
During his 62-minute speech he took aim at terrorists, taxes and his Democratic opponent John Kerry and, never mentioning Osama bin Laden, defended his decision to go to war in Iraq after the events of Sept. 11.
"In Saddam Hussein, I saw a threat," he said, explaining that the attack on America nearly three years ago "requires our country to think differently: We must, and we will, confront threats to America before it is too late."
The president sometimes used humor to point out some of his perceived deficiencies ("People sometimes have to correct my English – I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it") and heard some of his loudest applause when he introduced members of his family, especially his parents, former President George and Barbara Bush.
Two protestors managed to enter Madison Square Garden during the Bush speech, only to be hastily escorted out of the hall as the crowd, shouting "Four more years," drowned out anything the intruders had to say.
While speaking only in general terms of how he planned to implement many of his suggestions, such as a revamping of the Social Security system and simplifying income taxes, Bush, 56, specifically attacked Kerry, 61. He called his opponent soft on defense, with economic policies that represent "politics of the past."
Kerry did not take the claims sitting down, saying after the Bush speech that the president is "unfit" to continue to serve as Commander in Chief.
Speaking at a midnight rally in Ohio, the senator from Massachusetts said: "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."