NEW YORK – Sen. John McCain (search) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (search), two of the Republican Party's most popular politicians, open President Bush's nominating convention by calling him a leader unafraid of making unpopular choices to protect a nation scarred by the Sept. 11 attacks.
"He has not flinched from the hard choices. He will not yield. And neither will we," McCain said in excerpts of his Monday address released by the campaign the night before. The four-day convention ends Thursday with Bush's acceptance address.
McCain, an Arizona conservative and a favorite of independent-minded voters, joins Giuliani to headline an opening-night convention script designed to appeal to moderates by reminding the nation of Bush's performance after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes.
Giuliani, who was mayor of New York at the time, compares Bush with former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (search) and former President Ronald Reagan (search), two leaders who he said rose above criticism to confront threats posed by Nazism and Communism, respectively.
"George W. Bush saw and described terrorism for the evil that it is and he will remain consistent to the purpose of defeating it while working to make us ever safer at home," Giuliani said in excerpts of his speech text.
In a speech to be delivered Monday, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards said the Bush administration had miscalculated U.S. foreign policy.
"Their failed leadership at home and abroad means that they cannot deal with the new threats we face," he said in excerpts of his remarks.
Edwards said a John Kerry administration would "go on the offensive to defeat the terrorists before they get to us," strengthen defenses and build strong alliances.
McCain, who lost to Bush in a bitterly fought 2000 GOP primary campaign, has been mending political fences with the White House for months. He is co-chairman of the president's re-election bid in Arizona, and plans to join the president on the campaign trail Tuesday, when Bush addresses an American Legion convention.
McCain, who served more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said of Bush, "He has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time."
The excerpts do not mention Kerry, though McCain elsewhere in the speech urges his friends in the Democratic Party not to doubt the president's sincerity in his effort to build a coalition to fight and win the war on terror.
"What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach,"' he said. "It cannot be taken from us. It can only be surrendered."