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Both Sides Sharpen Messages in Advance of Republican Convention - 2004-08-26

Republicans and Democrats are sharpening their messages ahead of next week's Republican National Convention.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani stood with President Bush at a campaign rally Thursday, not in New York, but more than 4000 kilometers away, in the southwestern state of New Mexico. Nearly three years ago, Mr. Giuliani became something of a national celebrity as he guided New York in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He remains one of the most popular Republicans nationwide, which explains his appearance with the president just days before the start of the Republican National Convention in New York City.

Although Mr. Giuliani disagrees with President Bush on social issues such as abortion, he had nothing but praise for Mr. Bush as he introduced the president to an enthusiastic, partisan crowd. In his remarks, the former mayor made repeated references to September 11.

"I owe a great deal to President Bush for the strength that he gave to me, to my city, and to my country when we went through our worst days [after September 11]," said Mr. Giuliani. "He [Bush] was there, there in every respect, fulfilled every promise and has brought America back stronger than ever."

It is expected that next week's Republican National Convention will feature numerous tributes to President Bush as a resolute leader who inspired strength and confidence as the Untied States weathered the shock, horror and pain of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The very location of the event, in New York City within walking distance of where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood, will help reinforce the message.

Democrats say they are bracing for unrelenting attacks against Democratic presidential contender John Kerry. Speaking in Washington, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe gave his own preview of the Republican National Convention.

"They [Republicans] are going to try to impugn and attack the character of John Kerry, but it is no mystery," he said. "I mean, what is George Bush going to do? He has no alternative. He cannot talk about the economy; he is the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs during his tenure as president. So, they are going to try to attack, attack, attack. But we are prepared."

Mr. McAuliffe said the Democrats' message during the Republican National Convention will be "Mission Not Accomplished." The slogan makes reference to a banner that appeared on a U.S. aircraft carrier where President Bush proclaimed an end to major hostilities in Iraq last year. Mr. McAuliffe says Mr. Bush has not accomplished any of his goals for the nation, and that Democrats will hold daily briefings in New York to remind the electorate of their contention.

Republicans conducted similar operations during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts several weeks ago.