While the Democrats meet at their convention in Boston, President Bush is keeping a relatively low profile at his ranch in Texas. Both Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are making efforts to keep attention focused on the theme of fighting terrorism.
President Bush is spending this week on his ranch, but he is not entirely on vacation. He is asking his top officials to come up with concrete plans in the coming days to implement proposals from the September 11 Commission. At the same time, Vice President Cheney is holding up the image of the administration's fight against terrorism in speeches like the one he gave Tuesday at the Camp Pendleton Marine base in California.
"This is, to put it simply, an enemy we must vanquish and we will vanquish this enemy," he said.
Vice President Cheney went on to say that the nation has made a decision. "We will engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Iraq and Afghanistan today, so we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters, police, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities," he said.
Mr. Cheney was involved in a teleconference with the president and other officials on Monday that focused on how to swiftly implement at least some of the September 11th commission proposals.
Senator John Kerry, who is to receive the Democratic Party presidential nomination Thursday in Boston, has called for an 18-month extension of the commission to oversee implementation of its recommendations. The Commission chairman Republican Thomas Kean, a former New Jersey governor and vice chairman, former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, supported the idea.
From the campaign trail, Senator Kerry has criticized what he called the Bush administration's moves to use the commission report for political gain. In a statement released to the news media, Senator Kerry said,the Bush campaign is "using the report it has yet to embrace, written by a commission that it originally opposed, to justify its re-election effort"
Some political commentators have also questioned the president's motives in moving on the commission proposals this week while the Democrats hold their convention.
However, a senior White House official has defended the move, saying that "we are a nation at war with terrorism and the responsibilities of government do not stop because of a political event."
Many of the proposals in the September 11th commission report would require Congressional action, but some measures could be implemented by executive order or White House administrative action. The urgency given to the effort by President Bush during his teleconference Monday, indicate such action could even come before the end of this week.