NEW YORK – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (search), leading the Republican attack on John Kerry (search), said Monday the Democrat owns a "record of inconsistent positions" on war, terror and others issues where President Bush has led. It's no time to change course, he said.
"President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is. John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision," Giuliani said in remarks prepared for delivery on the opening night of the Republican National Convention. It was a tone Republicans struck all night as they sought to build Bush up while tearing down Kerry.
"My friends, this is no time to pick a leader who is weak on the war and wrong on taxes. George W. Bush is a strong leader with the right vision for America," House Speaker Dennis Hastert (search), R-Ill., said.
Giuliani was given a major speaking role to help remind voters of Bush's leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which won Bush praise and the highest approval ratings of his presidency. The former mayor had another chore: Convince voters that Kerry is not capable of such leadership.
Even as he praised the Democrat's service in the Vietnam War, Giuliani said, "It is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men: President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position on even important issues."
Other speakers, in texts of their addresses released by convention organizers, didn't have to mention Kerry by name to make their distaste known. "In this great struggle, we need a commander in chief who is a beacon, not a weather vane," said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.
Polls show the race tight, though Kerry has lost ground on his personal approval ratings since his convention in part because of unproven allegations that he exaggerated his war record. Bush and his allies want to open a lead over Kerry after the GOP convention, which ends Thursday.
Robert Khuzami, former assistant U.S. attorney from New York, defended the president's support of the Patriot Act, which strengthened the government's surveillance and detention powers. "Some politicians have waffled over their commitment to safeguarding America," he said. Bush himself has accused Kerry of taking both sides of the debate over the legislation.
Bernard Kerik, former New York police commissioner who has worked for the administration, praised Bush's leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks. "This fight against terrorism takes decisiveness, not contradiction," he said.
"It takes continued support for our troops and first responders, not votes against our military, our intelligence and law enforcement spending. Most importantly, it takes courage and inspirational leadership in the White House," Kerik said. "There are two candidates in this race, but only one fills those needs."
As for Giuliani, he noted that Kerry voted against the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in favor of the ongoing Iraq war, though he voted against funding it.
"President Bush will make certain that we are combatting terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York," he said. "John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combatting terrorism gives us no confidence he'll pursue such a determined course."
Noting that Kerry once said foreign leaders want Bush defeated, Giuliani said the comment, "raises the risk that he would accommodate his positions to their viewpoints."