(CNSNews.com) - Even before President Bush arrived in New York on Thursday, his opponents seemed poised to once again accuse him of insensitivity to 9/11 families.
An Associated Press report noted, "Bush attends memorial for 9/11 victims, followed by a fund-raiser ."
"President Bush isn't backing down," that AP report began. "His response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is a centerpiece of his campaign for re-election and he underscores the point Thursday with a visit to a new victims' memorial before headlining a campaign fund-raiser."
NBC's Today show, following the AP's lead, noted on Thursday that President Bush would attend a groundbreaking for a 9/11 memorial, then go to a fundraiser at a nearby hotel - implying that memorials and money-making shouldn't mix.
President Bush planned to begin his Thursday visit to Long Island with a stop at a Bay Shore manufacturing plant. He will then attend a ground-breaking ceremony at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, Long Island, where a 9/11 memorial is going up.
The mother of a Port Authority police officer who was killed in the World Trade Center was also expected to attend the ground-breaking ceremony. Arlene Howard gave President Bush her son's police shield shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
On Thursday evening, President Bush planned to attend a Republican fundraiser at a hotel in Eisenhower Park -- just "five minutes" from the site of the future 9/11 memorial, the AP noted.
During a campaign visit to Ohio on Wednesday, President Bush said, "September 11 taught a lesson that I will never forget and our country must never forget." He repeatedly has said that the terrorist attacks on America transformed his presidency.
But Bush's critics have pounced on him for "exploiting" 9/11 families by using the terror attacks in connection with his re-election campaign.
A media-fed controversy erupted last week, after President Bush's campaign used 9/11 images in his first batch of political ads.
A small but vocal minority of 9/11 families vented their pent-up fury and grief on Bush, accusing him using a national tragedy for political gain. "Exploitation!" they cried. "Hypocrisy at its worst," complained the head of a major firefighters union (who happens to be a John Kerry supporter).
Bush's defenders said 9/11 is a shared national tragedy that shaped his administration's policies, and they called it "inconceivable" that the president wouldn't talk about a day that had such a major impact on the nation.
On Thursday, Bush's political opponents were expected once again to cast the president's handling of 9/11 in a negative light. Press reports said at least two groups are planning to protest his visit to Long Island.
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