Tuesday, August 24, 2004

President Bush said yesterday he will use his upcoming speech at the Republican National Convention to tout his international leadership in the war on terror and his achievements to make Americans safer and economically secure at home.

“We’ve had a great record, but the only reason to even talk about the record is to say, ‘Give us a chance to move the country forward,’” the president told reporters on the driveway of his Crawford, Texas, ranch.

“We’re people who can get the job done. We’ve proven to you we can get the job done, and there’s more work to be done. And I’ll talk about that in the convention. In other words, this is going to be a forward-looking speech.”

The president said that he will “talk about what I intend to do” in his nomination-acceptance speech to thousands of Republican delegates on Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York. But he also will catalog for Americans the numerous achievements his administration has made in four years, he said.

“The world is safer as a result of the actions we’ve taken. Afghanistan is no longer run by the Taliban; Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell; Moammar Gadhafi has gotten rid of his weapons; Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror,” Mr. Bush said.

“When you think about domestic politics, we’ve faced a recession, had tax cuts that encouraged economic growth and vitality.”

In just four years, Mr. Bush said, his administration has helped reform the education system and Medicare and enacted trade-promotion authority, which has opened world markets to American businesses and farmers.

But Mr. Bush wouldn’t give reporters specifics about his speech, joking that “I don’t want to give you any tidbits, for fear that you may not pay attention when I actually stand up there and deliver it.”

Finishing a brief vacation at his Prairie Chapel ranch near Crawford, Texas, Mr. Bush met yesterday with his top defense and security aides for a strategy session on Iraq and national security. Among those at the meeting were Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, along with several of the Pentagon’s highest-ranking officers.

“We talked about Iraq, the way forward in Iraq, the way to help the Iraqis get to elections. We’re making progress on the ground,” the president said. “We talked about transformation issues. We spent some time talking about the reconfiguration of our forces around the world to better be able to keep the peace.”

In his brief exchange with reporters, Mr. Bush also said he had talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had assured him that his nation is ramping up oil production to help offset global increases in consumption.

Mr. Bush also squelched a rumor that he would swoop into Athens on a secret flight to catch an Olympic event. Last Thanksgiving, Mr. Bush secretly flew overnight to Baghdad to visit the U.S. troops stationed there.

“You’re not going to Athens this week, are you?” a reporter asked the president. “Athens, Texas?” Mr. Bush quipped. “The Olympics, Greece,” the reporter clarified. “Oh, the Olympics. No, I’m not,” Mr. Bush said.

He did, however, say that he has been watching the games, noting that he liked the Iraqi soccer team and “seeing the Afghan woman carrying the flag, coming in.”

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