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GOP Hopeful Convention Will Give Bounce Needed to Win in November - 2004-08-29

Tens of thousands of delegates, members of the news media and protesters have descended on New York City for the Republican National Convention that will nominate George Bush to run for a second term as president. Last minute preparations are under way before the convention comes to order on Monday.

Inside the cavernous Madison Square Garden, singers and dancers rehearsed Broadway show tunes and a final coat of paint was put on the huge stage, as Republicans prepared to kick off their national convention.

A thick red carpet fans out from the primary stage for speakers, while a second stage rises up through the floor providing a platform for performers who will try to keep both the delegates and a worldwide television audience entertained.

The entire convention is designed to showcase President Bush's record, especially since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Public opinion surveys give Mr. Bush an advantage over Democratic rival John Kerry when it comes to handling the war on terrorism.

Republican delegate Michael Weber, who is from the western U.S. state of Nevada, is looking for his party to offer American voters an upbeat assessment of the future. "Well I think over the past four years we have had a message of trying to just take a stand against terrorism and now I think we have to the next four years build on the future. We have taken over a couple of regimes that needed to be conquered in the world that were sources of terrorism and I think that now we can concentrate a little bit more on the domestic agenda," he said.

Thousands of New York City police officers are guarding the convention center as tens of thousands of demonstrators are here to protest the Bush administration's policies.

Margie Manos, a 55-year-old housewife from the western state of Utah, came to New York to join demonstrations against the war in Iraq. "I hope that they will realize that average people are against Bush and that being against Bush is not unpatriotic. I came all the way from Salt Lake City for this," she says.

Republican delegates like Sally Miller from Nevada say they don't mind the protesters and feel safe while out on the streets of the city.

Ms. Miller said a strong, positive message from the convention will give President Bush's campaign a boost. "Well I feel that Middle America, most families and people that are working have a better life, we are coming back after nine-one-one. I think we are on the right track with Bush," she said.

Republicans are delighted that recent public opinion polls show President Bush holds a slight lead over Senator Kerry and has regained ground on the critical issues of terrorism and Iraq.

They are hopeful the convention will give him a boost as the campaign moves toward the November election.