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Bush Revises Remarks, Says War on Terror Will be Won - 2004-08-31

President Bush is campaigning his way toward New York City and this week's Republican National Convention, where he will be re-nominated to run for another four years in office. Mr. Bush spoke to the nation's largest veterans' group, The American Legion.

President Bush is trying to clear up some confusion surrounding a Monday television interview in which he said he does not think the war on terrorism can be won.

White House officials moved quickly to explain that what the president meant is that this is not a conventional battle that will end with a formal armistice.

The president told the American Legion that it is a fight the United States will win.

"We will win by staying on the offensive," Mr. Bush saud. "We will win by spreading liberty. We believe that liberty can transform nations from tyranny into peaceful nations."

Democratic challenger John Kerry was slow to react to the president's earlier comments about not winning the fight against terrorism. Running-mate John Edwards had the sharpest response asking, "What if President Reagan had said that it may be difficult to win the war against communism?"

Fighting terrorism is at the heart of Republican efforts to showcase the president's accomplishments at this week's convention.

With most public opinion polls showing President Bush and Senator Kerry in a tight race, Mr. Bush leads on issues of fighting terrorism.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 56 percent of likely voters trust President Bush to do a better job of fighting terrorism, compared to 38 percent for Senator Kerry.

That is a wider lead for the president from just one month ago, when the same poll found 48 percent favoring Mr. Bush and 45 percent favoring Senator Kerry.

The new poll shows both men about even on economic issues. One month ago, Senator Kerry had a double-digit lead over the president when asked who voters trust to do a better job on the economy.

After the Democratic convention, both men were essentially tied on who is best able to deal with the situation in Iraq. Now, the poll shows the president leading his challenger 52 percent to 44 percent.

President Bush says he is taking no chances on the way to his party's convention in New York, with rallies in the important swing states of Iowa and Pennsylvania after the American Legion meeting. He will campaign Wednesday in Ohio before flying to New York, where he will be re-nominated Thursday.

Senator Kerry breaks with tradition and speaks out during his opponent's convention with remarks to the American Legion convention Wednesday. He has made veterans a cornerstone of a campaign that emphasizes his service in the Vietnam War as evidence of his ability to serve as commander-in-chief.