Opening night at the GOP show

By Joseph Farah

NEW YORK – It was about what everyone expected at day one of the Republican convention in New York.

That is to say the president was endorsed for re-election by Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The protesters didn’t get inside Madison Square Garden and failed to create massive problems outside. And terrorists didn’t strike.

A few more days like this and Republicans think President Bush will get the convention bounce that his opponent, John Kerry, failed to get from the Democrats’ shindig in Boston.

It’s a smooth operation in New York – if you overlook the National Guardsmen with automatic weapons on every street corner for blocks surrounding the garden.

It’s a nightmare getting around the city for anyone other than a VIP in a limo. Streets are blocked off for trucks, buses – even cabs. The only way to get to some parts of the city is to walk. And it’s hot and humid in New York.

But it was cool inside the convention last night as McCain offered a defense of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq as the only way to keep Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

“Our choice wasn’t between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war,” McCain said. “It was between war and a graver threat. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.”

McCain, who was courted as a vice presidential running mate by Kerry warned the Democrats to back off the character assassination: “I don’t doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.”

McCain got the most reaction from the crowd when he mentioned Michael Moore, whose pseudo-documentary film “Fahrenheit 9-11” attacks Bush on Iraq. Without mentioning Moore by name, McCain called him “a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam’s Iraq was an oasis of peace.”

Predictably, like everything else so far in New York, the delegates liked that. They responded with raucous, prolonged boos for Moore, who was seated in the Madison Square Garden press seats as a columnist this week for USA Today. As Republicans chanted “Four more years,” Moore laughed, raised his arms in triumph and said, “Two more months.”

Giuliani did his part to make the delegates forget about the humidity and the minor inconveniences of getting around the city.

While McCain veered away from attacks on Kerry, Giuliani said the Democrat owns a “record of inconsistent positions” on war, terror and others issues where President Bush has led.

“President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is. John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision,” Giuliani said. “It is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men: President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position on even important issues.”