Bush readies second-term proposals; delegates, protesters converge on New York

NEW YORK (AP) – Abortion-rights protesters and the first Republican delegates descended on President Bush’s heavily fortified convention city Saturday as campaign officials said their boss would use the nomination spotlight to defend his hawkish foreign polices and offer a second-term agenda for health care, education and job training.

“He believes it’s important for a candidate to talk about what he’s done and, most important, where he wants to lead,” said adviser Karen Hughes, aboard Bush’s campaign bus in Ohio. “The speech is very forward-looking. It talks about what another four years of a Bush presidency would look like.”

Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry said most voters won’t look kindly on another term for the Republican. “For the last four years, we’ve had a dark cloud over Washington,” Kerry told supporters on an overcast day in Washington state. “We’re going to get rid of it on Nov. 2.”

With his decorated combat record in question, Kerry said, “I’m in a fighting mood,” and a campaign ally chided Bush for serving stateside in the Texas Air National Guard while others fought in Vietnam.

In an interview, Bush told NBC’s “Today” that Kerry “going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets. He was in harm’s way and I wasn’t. On the other hand, I served my country. Had my unit been called up, I would have gone.”

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