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Republican Convention Kicks-off Amid High Security, Protests

Republicans are expected to reach out to undecided voters with several well-known party moderates delivering speeches this week, beginning Monday night with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., applauding President Bush’s wartime leadership.

“He has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time, and I salute him. I salute his determination to make this world a better, safer freer place. He has not wavered. He has not flinched from the hard choices. He will not yield. And neither will we,” according to excerpts of McCain’s prepared remarks released by the RNC.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who became renowned for solid leadership in New York City after the terrorist attacks in 2001, will also speak Monday night.

Giuliani’s remarks, according to prepared excerpts released last night, will speak even more directly to swing voters, urging citizens to not think about this election in terms of Democrat or Republican.

“We choose a leader. And in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.

“There are many qualities that make a great leader but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader,” according to Giuliani’s speech excerpts.

Vice President Dick Cheney unofficially kicked off the convention with a speech Sunday on Ellis Island.

“All of us are gathering this week for one reason and one reason only, and that is to make certain that George W. Bush is president for the next four years,” Cheney said, with the post-Sept. 11 New York skyline visible behind him.

While Cheney praised President Bush for his response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, demonstrators in Manhattan marched past Madison Square Garden chanting — “No More Years!”

More than 200,000 demonstrators took to the streets, according to police estimates. One group “Billionaires for Bush,” a satirical group, wore cocktail dresses and tuxedoes, The Washington Post reported.

“I’m here to protest Bush’s horrendous economic principles,” said Kathy Merletti, who wore a champagne-colored gown, gloves and carried a parasol and called herself Emma Goldmine. “After this I’m going to be playing croquet in Central Park,” she told The Post.

Protestors marched in a giant U — two miles past Madison Square Garden and then headed south two miles to Union Square. While there were some arrests, police reported no violence.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. and his running mate Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., campaigned in North Carolina.

“We have seen what his administration’s approach does to our standing in the world. It isolates us. It costs us respect from our allies. It means we must face these new challenges alone,” Edwards said in prepared remarks.

“After months of saying he’d done everything right on Iraq and foreign policy, the president acknowledged just the other day that he miscalculated the way in which he waged the war in Iraq. He believes that he may have won the war too quickly and that was a miscalculation,” the vice presidential nominee said.

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