This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Sept. 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The Republican Convention is three miles north of where the World Trade Center (search) used to stand. Rudy Giuliani and others have talked about the attacks during their convention speeches. As you just heard, Giuliani was with Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik the morning of September 11. Former Commissioner Kerik joins me now from Madison Square Garden.

Mr. Kerik, thank you very much. So there is a little bit of criticism bubbling around — let's deal with it immediately — about the Republicans, sort of embracing 9/11, taking it as an emblem for their campaign. You have any objections to that?

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: No, absolutely not, John. I think it should be embraced. It should be talked about. I think half of the problem in this country is that people have forgotten a lot about 9/11. They've gotten complacent and they have to realize that the threat exists as much today as it did on September 10th.

So we have a president that has enormous leadership in the area of combating terrorism. He's had major changes over the last three years. Those changes have to continue. This war has to continue. If it doesn't we'll be back where we were on September 10th of 2001: An imminent threat a day away.

GIBSON: Do you think that the speakers at the convention so far — I guess it would be McCain and Giuliani — have enunciated this as clearly as you would like to hear it?

KERIK: I want it talked about as much as possible because I think people in this country have to realize, each and every day, going forward, we have to consider there's an imminent threat against us, as long as we have al Qaeda (search) out there, as long as we have bin Laden out there, as long as we have Zarqawi out there and people like them, we have to take those people out. And this is going to take a long time. It's not going to happen overnight, this week, next month. It's going to take years to do this. This battle has to continue and we'll be fighting this war right here instead of fighting it abroad, as well.

GIBSON: When John Kerry says, I would have done almost everything differently than George Bush, can you think of anything? Would you have done anything different than George Bush?

KERIK: Well, you know the other thing that John Kerry (search) said, he would be consistent. He hasn't been consistent yet on any of these statements he has made considering the war, the use of force. I don't know what else he would have done. We did everything in our power to talk to the U.N., to deal with the U.N. resolutions. We did everything in our power. But the one thing the president shouldn't have to do, and nobody in this country should, is depend on others to defend us. The president had to take decisive action and that's what he did.

GIBSON: Mr. Kerik, we're going to hear all through this campaign that about 1,000 Americans have died in Iraq and we're going to hear Democrats say, "Would you send your son, would you send your daughter to defend Fallujah?"

What is the answer to that question?

KERIK: Well, two things — if my son wanted to go — my son just joined the sheriff's department in New Jersey. He starts the police academy on September 7th. Is that the job I really wanted for him? It's up to him. I endorse whatever he wants. But the issue with regard to how many people we've lost, we've lost those people in a year, over the last year.

Afghanistan is a free country. Iraq is a free country. Think about this — in one hour on the morning of September 11th, we lost over 3,000 and it cost us hundreds of billions of dollars in our economy. We can't afford another attack. This fight has to continue.

GIBSON: New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, former commissioner joins us at Madison Square Garden where a rock concert evidently goes on in the afternoon before the convention. Commissioner, thanks a lot. Appreciate you hanging in with us.

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