President Bush, a wartime leader in a tight race, was to vow victory over terrorism and a brighter future for Americans buffeted by a changing economy Thursday night in a Republican National Convention acceptance speech that launched his fall re-election campaign. "We are staying on the offensive striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush said in remarks prepared for a prime-time address in a convention hall close to Ground Zero of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. To millions anxious over their economic security, the president was to say, "government must take your side" by offering a path to greater opportunity. In a return to the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism that marked his 2000 election campaign, Bush planned to transform the tax code, health coverage, pension system and more "so that all citizens are equipped, prepared and thus truly free to make your own choices and pursue your own dreams." In a ferocious counterattack after a week of GOP convention criticism, Democratic Sen. John Kerry called Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney unfit to lead the nation, informs ABCNEWS. The Star reports that .S. President George W. Bush will try tonight to take the edge off a conservative image sharpened by three years of war and a relentless focus on tax cuts, casting himself as a steady and compassionate leader who would use a second term to build "a more hopeful America.'' He will unveil several modest new proposals, including steps to tighten high-school testing, encourage investment in poor communities, force deficit-reduction and expand health care. The Republican convention has showcased the party's dwindling moderates, and Bush will try to balance empathy for kitchen-table concerns with the heavy responsibilities of war. In the excerpts released by Bush's re-election campaign, there was no mention of his opponent, Democratic Sen. John Kerry. But Bush was to implicitly criticize Kerry, whom the White House constantly tries to portray as a political opportunist. According to Reuters, Democrat John Kerry hit back at Dick Cheney on Thursday by raising the Republican's failure to serve in the Vietnam War and asking voters to weigh his two tours of duty against the vice president's five deferments. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, bristled at Cheney's attack on his patriotism during the Republican National Convention in New York and his ability to serve as U.S. commander-in-chief. "Here's my answer," the Massachusetts senator said in excerpts of remarks he will make at a midnight rally in Springfield, Ohio, shortly after President Bush delivers his acceptance speech at the Republican convention. "I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq," he said. Neither Bush, who served in the Texas Air national Guard, nor Cheney went to Vietnam. The vice president obtained five deferments and has since said he had "other priorities" at the time.
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