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Republican National Convention Opening in New York - 2004-08-30

The Republican National Convention, which will nominate President Bush in hopes of another four-year term in office, opens in New York Monday.

Republicans chose New York, a mostly Democratic Party stronghold to have their convention not long after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Mr. Bush's decision to launch retaliatory attacks against the al-Qaida terrorist network and its Taleban allies prompted his popularity to soar.

But as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of this city Sunday to protest Mr. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq and his stand on other issues, Vice President Dick Cheney, campaigning in New York, reminded Americans why the convention is opening here.

"He is a man of his word, as the Taleban were the first to find out. Under the president's leadership, we drove them from power in Afghanistan and closed down the camps, where terrorists trained to kill Americans," he said.

In an effort to woo independent and undecided voters, the convention will feature many politically-moderate Republicans at the podium. Among the speakers Monday will be Senator John McCain of Arizona and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who trained Iraqi police in Baghdad last year.

The Republican Party hopes to underscore broad appeal by allowing a Democrat, Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, to deliver the keynote speech later in the week.

Senator Miller offered a preview of his remarks on Fox News Sunday, praising Mr. Bush. "I think he has a vision for this country, and I think he will lay out that vision on Thursday night. I think he knows where he wants to take this country and I think we have to get behind him and let him lead us to where he wants us to go," he said.

But former President Bill Clinton, who is a New York resident and has an office in this city, says the Republicans' emphasis on moderates at their convention does not reflect what he describes as the ultra conservative views of those who make up the party's base.

He made his comments to congregates at the Riverside Church in the city. "[Their] values are anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, concentration of wealth and power," he said.

President Bush is not to arrive at the convention site until Wednesday, on the eve of his acceptance of his party's nomination.