(CNSNews.com) - “John McCain's independence and character helped change history,” President Bush told delegates to the Republican National Convention Tuesday night.
Speaking to the convention by video link from the White House, President Bush reminded Americans that Democrats -- after taking control of Congress in 2006 -- had threatened to cut off funding for U.S. troops. (Some Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama, wanted troop funding to be accompanied by a troop withdrawal timetable.)
“In the face of calls for retreat, I ordered a surge of forces into Iraq,” Bush said. “Many in Congress said it had no chance of working. Yet one senator above all had faith in our troops and the importance of their mission -- and that was John McCain.
“Some told him that his early and consistent call for more troops would put his presidential campaign at risk. He told them he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. That is the kind of courage and vision we need in our next commander-in-chief,” Bush said to applause.
“My fellow citizens, we live in a dangerous world. And we need a president who understands the lessons of September the 11th, 2001 -- that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain.”
In his speech -- delivered around 9:30 p.m. EDT, before network coverage began -- President Bush said Sen. John McCain is prepared to make the hard choices a president must make. “He is ready to lead this nation.”
Bush said McCain’s life “is a story of service above self,” and he mentioned the trials McCain faced in an enemy prison camp in Vietnam. “Fellow citizens: If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will,” Bush said to applause.
Bush praised McCain’s “commitment to principle,” specifically, his opposition to wasteful spending: “As president, he will stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress, and make the tax relief permanent. He will invest in the energy technologies of tomorrow -- and lift the ban on drilling for America's offshore oil today.”
Both Bush and Vice President Dick planned to speak at the convention Monday night, but Hurricane Gustav forced last-minute schedule changes and both men ended up missing the convention altogether.
On Tuesday night, Cheney was on his way to Azerbaijan, part of a tour that will take him to former Soviet states that are now American allies.