- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

HONOLULU — President Bush yesterday paid tribute to U.S. troops as he toured Pearl Harbor, where warships that served in the Iraq war were moored near the hulks of ships sunk in the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941.

The president toured the USS Arizona memorial, a tribute to the 1,177 sailors who died when a 1,700-pound Japanese bomb hit the battleship’s ammunition magazine. Most of the dead remain at the bottom of the harbor inside the ship, which sank in nine minutes.

Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, dropped a single stem of a flower into the water at the memorial. Two trumpeters played taps.

On their way to the memorial, the first couple passed the USS Cheyenne, a nuclear-powered submarine that launched the first Tomahawk missile of the Iraq war. Sailors stood at attention on the deck.

Mr. Bush also visited the USS Missouri, the battleship on which the Japanese officially surrendered to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo Bay. Some 60 veterans of WWII greeted the president as he came aboard.

The president said the veterans had made “an important statement about what it means to sacrifice for country.” Returning from a six-day trip to Asia and Australia, Mr. Bush added: “I’m also glad to be home.”

The president ended his Asian journey just like he began it in California a week ago — with a fund-raising event for his re-election campaign. Republicans in Hawaii are energized by the 2002 election of the first Republican governor in 40 years, Linda Lingle.

Campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said 600 people attended the event, which raised more than $600,000.

Mindful of political battles back home, Mr. Bush issued a written rebuke to Senate Democrats who derailed Republican-backed legislation to limit class-action lawsuits and large damage awards against corporations, apparently killing the bill for this year.

“I am eager to sign it, our economy needs it and I urge those senators who stand in the way to let the will of the people be heard,” Mr. Bush wrote.

White House officials drew parallels between Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 with al Qaeda’s attack against the United States on September 11. The campaign against terrorism was the main theme of Mr. Bush’s Asian trip, and he reminded the world not to let down its guard.

Before arriving in Hawaii, Mr. Bush had wrapped up a six-nation lobbying campaign to reinvigorate the war on terrorism among Asian and Pacific allies.

He told a divided Parliament in Australia that the war in Iraq was right and inevitable, but that Americans and Australians “still have decisive days ahead” and that the broader war on terror could be long and drawn out.

With thousands of antiwar demonstrators protesting outside the building and two hecklers jeering him from within, Mr. Bush thanked the government of Prime Minister John Howard for its help in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“America, Australia and other nations acted in Iraq to remove a grave and gathering danger, instead of wishing and waiting while a tragedy drew closer,” Mr. Bush said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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