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Democratic Senator Delivers Strong Criticism of Kerry at Republican Convention - 2004-09-02

On the third night of the Republican National Convention, a Democrat was given the spotlight as the gathering's keynote speaker. He offered some of the harshest criticism of his own party's presidential nominee John Kerry.

Senator Zell Miller is a Democrat from Georgia. But he did not hesitate to defend his shift in loyalties to the cheers of Republican delegates. "There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man's name is George Bush," he said.

Senator Miller has vigorously taken issue with Democratic Party critics of Mr. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, and he did it again Wednesday night.

Using particularly tough language, Senator Miller attacked his own party's leaders, saying they are motivated more by partisan politics than by national security. He said they see America as an occupier, not as a liberator.

"Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in- Chief," he said.

Mr. Miller took aim at Mr. Kerry's congressional voting record over the years, opposing various weapons systems. "This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?", he asked

Mr. Miller also condemned Mr. Kerry's insistence that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide," he said.

Attracting a Democrat, especially one who was the keynote speaker at the 1992 Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton, is considered a coup by Republicans. But while the Bush campaign hopes Senator Miller's support will prompt other Democrats to back the President, Democratic strategists say Mr. Miller is too politically conservative to sway voters in their party.