The following are remarks by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as prepared for delivery on September 1 at the 2004 Republican National Convention:

I'm proud to be from Massachusetts, where John Kerry will be the junior senator until 2008.

You see, I don't believe Senator Kerry is the leader our country needs.

Let me say I respect his four months under enemy fire in Vietnam; we should honor that service as we do the service of all our fighting men and women.

No, it's John Kerry's record in his nearly 40 years since Vietnam that's the question. Study that record; if you want someone who voted for tax hikes 98 times, then yes, send him. If you want cuts in intelligence funding, then yes, send him. If you think that during the great national policy debate of the 1980's Ronald Reagan was wrong and Ted Kennedy was right, then by all means send in John Kerry. Senator Kerry now tells us he has a clear position on the War on Terror.

He voted NO on Desert Storm in 1991 and YES on Desert Shield today. Then he voted NO on troop funding, just after he had voted YES.

He's campaigned against the war all year, but says he'd vote YES today. I don't want Presidential leadership that comes in 57 varieties! I want a strong President who stands his ground.

I want George W. Bush! We need unwavering leadership. America is under attack from almost every direction. We have been attacked by murderous, crazed terrorists, even in this great city. Our employers and jobs are threatened by low cost, highly skilled labor from abroad. American values are under attack from within.

Throughout our history, when our country needed us, Americans have stepped forward, standing up to every challenge. We need to step forward again today. We step forward by pursuing our education, pushing our minds to their limits, and by insisting that our schools are accountable for their successes and failures. Schools must be run for the benefit of our children, not the teacher's unions.

We step forward by innovating and taking risk in our free enterprises, by caring more about the quality of our work. We step forward by insisting on Ronald Reagan's vision of a compassionate and fiscally conservative government that promotes the opportunity of ownership and leaves more money in the hands of the taxpayers. We step forward by entering marriage before we enter parenthood.

We step forward by expressing tolerance and respect for all God's children, regardless of their differences and choices.

At the same time, because every child deserves a mother and a father, we step forward by recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman.

We step forward by never forgetting that America is a force for good in the world, fighting for freedom and human rights.

On this, there is no question: George W.

Bush is right and the Blame America First Crowd is wrong! Americans will rise to every challenge we face.

I saw the character of America's people when I ran the Olympics in Salt Lake City. I asked speed skater Derek Parra what had been his most memorable Olympic experience.

It was not winning the silver medal. It was not winning the gold medal.

It was carrying the flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on September 11 into the Opening Ceremonies.

We had expected cheers from the 60,000 person audience as the flag entered the stadium.

Instead, total silence, complete reverence.

Derek maintained his composure as the national anthem was sung.

But then the choir surprised him by singing a reprise of the last line: "O say does that star- spangled banner yet wave, oe'r the land of the free and the home of the brave?" A gust of wind lifted the flag in his hands.

Derek said it was as if it came from the countless men and women who had paid the ultimate price for America's freedoms — a breath from above that stirred the hearts of those of us below, who will always remember them.

My friends, we will move forward — safer, stronger, and to better days — under the courageous and compassionate leadership of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Thank you and God Bless You.