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Cheney, accepting party's nod, hails Bush's actions

Democrat Miller fires up Republicans in keynote speech

Cheney: "George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people."
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Delegates hear from the ticket's No. 2 man -- and from a Democrat, too.

Vice President Dick Cheney speaks.
Cheney speech (Part 2)

Keynote speaker Zell Miller backs Bush.
Miller address (Part 2)
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Day Four: Thursday

Theme: 'A Safer World, a More Hopeful America'

7:45 to 11:15 p.m. ET: Those appearing include Mary Lou Retton, Dorothy Hamill, Lynn Swann, Cardinal Egan, George Pataki, and George W. Bush, speaking in acceptance of the Republican nomination for president
Did Dick Cheney make the case for a second Bush term?
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Republican Convention
America Votes 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The theme was opportunity, but most of the talk was on terror.

The third night of the Republican convention was billed as a showcase of America as a "land of opportunity," but the vice president, his fiery forerunner and many of the speakers before them concentrated on presenting President Bush as the country's protector.

Vice President Dick Cheney, after accepting his party's renomination, gave a nod to the pulling-up-by-the-bootstraps topic when he mentioned that his grandparents had lived in a railroad car.

But he quickly moved to the terror issue and said "if the killers of September 11 thought we had lost the will to defend freedom, they did not know America, and they did not know George W. Bush." (Special Report: America Votes 2004, the Republican convention)

Addressing more than 4,800 delegates and alternates, Cheney spent the majority of his speech on why he and Bush should remain in the White House. As is traditional for vice presidential candidates, he tried to delineate how his party is different from the other. (Commentary: Carlos Watson)

"It is time to set the alternatives squarely before the American people," Cheney said. "The president's opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and we honor him for it. But there is also a record of more than three decades since. And on the question of America's role in the world, the differences between [Democratic nominee] Senator [John] Kerry and President Bush are the sharpest, and the stakes for the country are the highest. (Cheney hits Kerry's 'habit of indecision')

"Senator Kerry denounces American action when other countries don't approve -- as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few persistent critics," Cheney said. "But as the president has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many and submitting to the objections of a few. George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people." (Cheney transcript)

Measured and slow, Cheney's delivery came in pointed contrast to that of Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat who took the stage before him and gripped the audience with a crowd-rousing speech.

The former Georgia governor hammered hard and often on the terror threat facing the nation and charged that his party could not be trusted to protect his "most precious possession:" his family.

"There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future, and that man's name is George W. Bush," he said.

"Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today," Miller said. "Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator. (Miller: Democrats' thinking is 'warped')

"No one should dare to even think about being the commander in chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home," Miller said.

Listing a half dozen of the weapons programs he said Kerry voted against during his Senate tenure, Miller asked, "This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of our U.S. armed forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs? Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than 20 weeks of campaign rhetoric." (Miller transcript)

Miller gave the keynote address at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, which nominated President Clinton. But he has since broken with his party and sided with Bush on such issues as tax cuts and his handling of the war against terror.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also focused on national security and worked in a dig on Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, whose first husband was from the well-known condiment dynasty.

"This nation can't afford presidential leadership that comes in 57 varieties," Romney said about Kerry. "We need a decisive president who stands his ground. We need George W. Bush."

Hope and homage

In line with the night's theme of equal opportunity for all, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao made brief remarks earlier in the evening about her trek to America as an 8-year-old on a freighter from Asia and her rise to a Cabinet office.

"It wasn't the Mayflower. It wasn't the Love Boat. But it brought us to this magical country and reunited our family, so it was beautiful to me," Chao said. "Faith, hard work and the kindness of new friends carried my family forward and made it possible for me to become the first Asian-Pacific-American woman to serve in the Cabinet of a president of the United States."

And two minority female entrepreneurs said Bush's economic policies helped salvage and expand their enterprises.

Since the convention began, speakers have often dropped the names of renowned Republicans Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday night, Reagan's son Michael introduced a video that convention planners included as a tribute to the late leader.

Unlike his brother Ron during the Democrat convention last month, Michael Reagan did not mention stem cell research. That issue has drawn fire from those in the medical community who believe that Bush's policies limit the hope for possible cures from stem cell research. (Michael Reagan transcript)

Michael Reagan instead said, "My mother, father and birth-mother were pro-life and pro-adoption. Because they were, my father made me a Reagan. I've come to honor my father, not to politicize his name."

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