Bush backs McCain amid storm over vice presidential choice (Second Lead)

September 3rd, 2008 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 3 (IANS) US President George W. Bush has backed John McCain as the man “ready to lead” amid a brewing storm over his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate with some questioning his judgement.”We live in a dangerous world,” Bush said speaking via satellite from the White House as the Republicans finally got down to the business of nominating McCain as their presidential candidate on the second day Tuesday of their national convention at St. Paul, Minnesota.

“And we need a president who understands the lessons of Sep 11, 2001 - that to protect America, we must stay on the offence, stop attacks before they happen and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain,” he said.

Bush’s long-distance appearance solved a political problem for McCain who has sought to distance himself from the unpopular president with Democrats suggesting that the Vietnam War veteran’s presidency would be like a third term for the incumbent.

Part of a parade of speakers at the convention, shortened because of Hurricane Gustav’s lashing of the Gulf Coast, Bush congratulated McCain for supporting the White House plan to send additional troops to Iraq.

McCain has claimed credit for pushing the surge and has argued repeatedly that it shows he is more experienced in foreign and security issues than Democratic rival Barack Obama, who opposed the war.

Support for McCain’s candidature also came from Joe Lieberman, the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate in 2000. Lieberman was on the short list for vice president before complaints from Republican conservatives forced McCain to look elsewhere.

“What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this? The answer is simple. I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.

“I’m here tonight because John McCain is the best choice to bring our country together and lead our country forward. I’m here because John McCain’s whole life testifies to a great truth: being a Democrat or a Republican is important. But it is not more important than being an American,” Lieberman said.

But as the Republicans sought to refocus the convention after the Gustav interlude, some questioned McCain’s judgment in choosing the Alaska governor as his surprise vice presidential running mate and how his campaign vetted her background.

Palin’s disclosure that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant has triggered a controversy over a choice that was initially hailed as a brilliant move to win over Democrat Hillary Clinton’s disillusioned female supporters.

Palin, the first woman to be nominated for a top spot on the Republican national ticket, is also the subject of an Alaska legislative inquiry into her role in the departure of a public safety commissioner.

However, McCain himself Tuesday tried to reassure supporters. “America’s excited and they’re going to be even more excited once they see her tomorrow night,” McCain said in a statement that he read to reporters at a campaign stop at a firehouse in Brecksville, Ohio, near Cleveland.

“I’m very, very proud of the impression she’s made on all of America and looking forward to serving with her.”

McCain took no questions. But at an earlier stop in Philadelphia, when asked if he was satisfied with the campaign’s investigation of Palin’s background before he invited her to join his ticket, McCain responded: “The vetting process was completely thorough and I’m grateful for the results.”

At the convention Tuesday, former senator Fred Thompson too gave a ringing endorsement of McCain and Palin, calling her a breath of fresh air.

“Some Washington pundits and media big shots are in a frenzy over the selection of a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit,” Thompson said.

“Let’s be clear… the selection of Governor Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic. She is a courageous, successful reformer who is not afraid to take on the establishment,” he added.

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