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Republicans Attack Democratic Policies at Convention

Republicans put their convention back on track Tuesday in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a televised satellite address from U.S. President George Bush, and speakers who praised the character of Republican nominee-to-be John McCain, while sharply attacking Democrats. At the same time, controversy about McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate continues to grab headlines, as Republicans rallied behind her and prepared to formally nominate their candidates on Wednesday and Thursday. VOA's Dan Robinson reports.

President Bush used a 10 minute satellite address from the White House to praise Senator McCain, citing his defense of the military surge in Iraq, and describing him as someone who will protect Americans from further terrorist attacks:

"We live in a dangerous world. And we need a president who understands the lessons of September 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain," he said.

Tuesday's speakers brought a change in atmosphere, as Republicans escalated criticisms of Democrats and McCain's Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama.

Senator Joe Lieberman, now an Independent who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000 presidential race, said he was appearing in support of McCain because, as he put it, "country matters more than party."

Lieberman has drawn criticism from Democrats in Congress for his strong support of Senator McCain and President Bush's Iraq policies, and had this sharp criticism of Democratic presidential nominee Obama.

"When others were silent about the war in Iraq, John McCain had the guts and the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, which would have been a disaster for the U.S.A.," said Lieberman. "When colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion, advocate the surge, support the surge and because of that, today America's troops are coming home, thousands of them, and they're coming home in honor."

John Boehner, Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, accused House and Senate majority Democratic leaders of doing little to solve American's energy and other problems. Representative Michele Bachmann sounded a traditional Republican theme of less government:

BOEHNER: Washington today is broken and the Democratic Congress is its most visible symbol.

BACHMANN: Government is not a philanthropic organization. Government is not the family. And government certainly is not the church.

Fred Thompson, former senator and television actor who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the presidency, sought to emphasize McCain's credentials as a maverick who does what he thinks is right, regardless of what others say.

"He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003. He went seeking truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives. And the same character that marked John McCain's military career has also marked his political career. This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular," he said.

While Republicans want to turn the focus of news headlines back to the main work of their convention, formally nominating McCain as their presidential candidate, he and his advisors are still battling questions about how thoroughly they examined Sarah Palin's background before choosing her as a running mate.

Chosen for her social conservatism and anti-abortion stance among other things, she revealed this week that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, a fact Senator McCain says he knew. She is also the subject of an investigation in Alaska involving firing of a state official.

McCain advisors insist she was thoroughly vetted, and have provided journalists with details of the process. But media organizations quoted unidentified Republican party sources as saying Palin was not seriously considered until a week or so before McCain announced the selection.

McCain was pressed again on the issue during a campaign appearance in Cleveland, Ohio. "My vetting process was completely thorough and I am grateful for the results," he said.

McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama, says family matters should remain personal and not be mixed with politics, a view shared by Obama'S running mate, Senator Joe Biden. "I have a simple proposition. Children are off limits. Children are off limits."

Senator McCain has predicted that Palin's appearance at the Republican convention on Wednesday to accept the vice presidential nomination will help excite Americans about her candidacy. Republican delegates and others attending the convention expressed continued support for her and applauded McCain's choice.