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Giuliani: Bush best leader for war on terrorism

Rudy Giuliani
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Rudy Giuliani addresses the GOP convention.
Giuliani speech (Part 2)
Giuliani speech (Part 3)
America Votes 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani praised President Bush for his leadership after September 11, 2001, and told delegates to the Republican National Convention on Monday that "we need George Bush now more than ever."

During his 39-minute speech, Giuliani, who was mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001, recounted a story from September 11. He and then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik had just stepped onto the city streets after one of the towers fell, Giuliani said.

"Thank God George Bush is our President," Giuliani said he recalled saying to Kerik.

The attacks killed 2,749 people aboard the planes, inside the buildings or on the surrounding streets of lower Manhattan, according to the New York medical examiner's office.

The dead include 343 firefighters, 23 New York police officers and 37 officers for the Port Authority, the transportation agency that owned the Trade Center complex -- the twin towers and five smaller buildings.

First responders helped 25,000 people evacuate the buildings before their collapse, according to a 2002 study by McKinsey & Co.

Giuliani took a moment to recognize the members of victims' families.

"The families of some of those we lost on September 11 are here with us," he said.

"To them, and to all those families affected by September 11, we recognize the sacrifices your loved ones made. We recognize the sacrifices that you're making. You are in our prayers, and we are in your debt."

Before the attacks, Americans had an "unrealistic view" of the world, Giuliani said. Attitudes changed and the president showed vision in how the United States combated terrorists, he said.

"President Bush decided that we could no longer be just on defense against global terrorism, but we must also be on offense," Giuliani said.

Earlier Monday, President Bush, when asked on NBC's "Today" show if the war on terror was winnable, said: "I don't believe you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world. Let's put it that way."

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards fired back, saying at a campaign stop in North Carolina that "we believe -- John Kerry and I -- that this war is winnable; they don't."

But Giuliani said there would be no obvious sign of the war's end.

"The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle," he said. "There will be no dramatic surrender. There will be no crumbling of a massive wall.

"But we will know it. We'll know it as accountable governments continue to develop in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We'll know it as terrorist attacks throughout the world decrease and then end."

He also stood behind the president in the war that removed Saddam Hussein from power. He said the dictator of Iraq was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and a supporter of global terrorism.

Hussein was "himself a weapon of mass destruction."

Giuliani said he wanted also to point to contrasts between Bush and his Democratic opponent, John Kerry. He said Kerry had taken different positions on war. At different times, he has been for and against both Gulf Wars, Giuliani said.

"At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position at least four or five more times," the former mayor said.

Giuliani said that he and every politician have changed their stances on issues when they realize they are wrong. Kerry, he said, has "made it a rule ... rather than the exception."

The choice in November was not one between a Republican and Democrat or between a conservative and liberal, said Giuliani, a moderate. He said Americans should put leadership at the top of the list of qualities in a presidential candidate.

"President Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over 30 years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense," he said.

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