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Pataki invokes 9/11 in Bush introduction

New York Gov. George Pataki thanks America for its help after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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George W. Bush
George E. Pataki

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York Gov. George Pataki introduced President Bush at the Republican National Convention Thursday night by invoking images of September 11, 2001.

Pataki thanked a list of states that provided help to New York following the 9/11 attacks.

He mentioned three battleground states -- Oregon, Iowa and Pennsylvania -- by name and asked delegates to stand.

Pataki thanked Oregon for sending 1,000 people to rent hotel rooms in New York "so our workers and desk clerks and waiters could keep their jobs."

Iowa was thanked for rushing 1,500 quilts to Ground Zero to keep workers warm.

And Pennsylvania was thanked for five brothers who donated $900 they'd saved for a trip to Disney World to a Brooklyn firehouse that lost eight men.

"Now, I could tell a story like this about every single state in the country," he said.

Pataki then spent several minutes discussing the bravery of New Yorkers in the hours that followed the attacks.

"On that terrible day, a nation became a neighborhood. All Americans became New Yorkers," he said. "So what I've wanted to do for a long time was say thank you -- in front of our country, and with our children watching. Thank you America, from the bottom of New York's heart."

From there, Pataki went on to "help voters compare President Bush's record of achievement with Sen. [John] Kerry's."

Referring to Kerry, he said, "this is a candidate who has to Google his own name to find out where he stands" on issues.

He mocked Kerry's slogan of "Hope is on the way" by saying it should be "Hype is on the way."

In addition to the jabs at Kerry, Pataki lobbed a veiled attack on former President Clinton.

He blamed Clinton for not taking on al Qaeda sooner.

"Osama bin Laden declared war on America -- and then came the attacks," Pataki said. "The first World Trade Center, the embassies, the USS Cole -- hundreds dead, thousands injured. How I wish the administration at that time, in those years had done something."

The World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, and the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in 1998. The bombing of the USS Cole occurred in 2000.

Clinton was president during each event, but was not named by Pataki.

In recent testimony before the 9/11 commission, members of the Bush and Clinton administrations testified that until September 11, there was not enough support -- either domestically or internationally -- to send U.S. troops into Afghanistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cohorts.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld were among those who agreed that America's post-September 11 response was not possible before the attacks.

Pataki, however, stuck to Bush's response to the most recent and most catastrophic attack.

"On September 11th, al Qaeda attacked again. But this time they made a terrible mistake. There's one thing they didn't bank on," Pataki said. "They didn't bank on George W. Bush. He didn't run from history. He faced it."

Pataki also drew a connection between al Qaeda, which led the September 11 attacks, and the war in Iraq.

"With supreme guts -- and rightness -- President Bush went into Iraq," Pataki said. "Some people have called this an abuse of power. I call it progress."

He noted that critics are bothered that the U.S. and its coalition never found weapons of mass destruction, which had been the prevailing reason Bush waged war.

"On September 11th in New York we learned that in the hands of a monster, a box cutter is a weapon of mass destruction. And Saddam Hussein was a monster -- a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction," Pataki said.

He ended by comparing Bush to the Statue of Liberty.

"On this night and in this fight there is another who holds high that torch of freedom. He is one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge," Pataki said. "And he is lighting the way to better times, a safer land and hope."

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