2004 Republican National Convention

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2004 Republican National Convention Logo
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President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney accepted their party's nomination to run for second terms.
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Delegates from every state crowded the convention floor. There were 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternates in attendance. State Senator Barbara Marumoto decorated the Hawaii standard with orchid leis.

The 2004 Republican National Convention, the U.S. presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party, took place from August 30 to September 2, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The convention is one of a series of historic quadrennial meetings at which the Republican candidate for President of the United States and party platform are formally adopted. Attendance includes 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternate delegates from the states, territories and overseas dependencies. The convention marks the formal end of the active primary election season, although the primaries were essentially uncontested; there was no legitimate challenge to the incumbent, George W. Bush.

The theme of the convention was "Fulfilling America's Promise by Building a Safer World and a More Hopeful America." Defining moments of the 2004 Republican National Convention include a featured keynote address by Zell Miller and the confirmation of the nomination of incumbent George W. Bush as the candidate for President and of incumbent Dick Cheney as the candidate for Vice President. Bush and Cheney faced the Democratic Party's ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards in the 2004 presidential election.

The convention faced unprecedented protests in New York City throughout the week (see 2004 Republican National Convention protest activity), including a massive march on the Sunday preceding the convention and repeated infiltration of the convention by protestors. 1821 people were officially arrested during the week, the vast majority on violations charges.



Apart from nominating a candidate for President and Vice President, the 2004 Republican National Convention was also charged with crafting an official party platform and political agenda for the next four years. At the helm of the Platform Committee was United States Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania and Colorado Governor Bill Owens. The committee worked with the Bush campaign to develop the draft platform.

The platform adopted by the 2004 Republican National Convention was the longest in the party's history compared to the mere 1,000 word platform adopted at the first convention in 1856. At 48,000 words, it was twice the length of the one adopted at the 2004 Democratic National Convention which was only 19,500 words.

The platform was aligned with the social conservatives in the party. It calls for federal amendments to ban abortion and gay marriage, and further opposes civil unions. In foreign policy, the platform praised Bush for his actions following September 11 and said that the invasion of Iraq had made America safer. Reflecting the shift in political goals, the platform shifted from the 2000 platform toward Russia and China, no longer challenging them on economic policy and removing the 2000 platform's rebuke of Russia for the Chechnya conflict.


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Banner on Madison Square Garden

The choice of Madison Square Garden on January 31, 2003 by all 165 members of the Republican National Committee as the venue for the 2004 Republican National Convention meant that New York City would host a major Republican nominating convention for the first time in the nation's history. On July 19, control of Madison Square Garden was officially handed over to the Republican Party under the administration of Chief Executive Officer of the Convention Bill Harris. Many critics charged that the selection of New York City was a cynical attempt by the Republican Party to capitalize on the events of September 11, 2001. Mayor Michael Bloomberg thanked the party for their choice, for which he had vigorously lobbied, noting it as a significant display of support for the city and an economic boon.


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Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, welcomed delegates to New York City as he addressed the convention.

Like the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially declared the 2004 Republican National Convention a National Special Security Event (NSSE). As such, the United States Secret Service was charged with employing and coordinating all federal and local agencies including the various bureaus of DHS, the FBI, and the NYPD to secure the venue from terrorist attacks. Expected security expenditures reached US $50 million, half of which was funded by the federal government.

The city employed an active beat of 10,000 police officers deployed as Hercules teams — uniformed in full riot gear and body armor, and equipped with submachine guns and rifles. Commuter and Amtrak trains entering and exiting Penn Station were scoured by bomb-sniffing dogs as uniformed police officers were attached to buses carrying delegates. All employees of buildings surrounding Madison Square Garden were subjected to thorough screening and background checks.


The convention took place in New York City a week before September 11. The attacks were a primary theme of the convention, from the choice of speakers to repeated invocations of the attacks.

The decision to hold the convention at such a late date sparked a controversy in the state of Illinois. Since the incumbent would accept his nomination on the last day of the convention — a mere sixty-one days before the November 2 general election — Bush would miss the certification deadline to have his name listed on the state's ballot. Illinois statutes require certification of the nomination acceptance sixty-seven days before the election. [1] (http://www.lp.org/lpnews/0307/illinois_ballotlaw.html) To remedy the problem, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed a bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly allowing Bush's name to appear on the ballot. [2] (http://www.suntimesnews.com/2/news_archive/jul_04archives/0709blag.htm)

At the convention, there was a tribute to those killed on 9/11, relatives of three of the victims spoke and talked about how 9/11 brought the country together.


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Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle officially controlled the convention agenda as convention chair, although the position is essentially honorary, as the agenda was determined by the Bush campaign. She presided alongside Dennis Hastert who held the title of permanent convention chair.

Early in the summer leading up to the 2004 Republican National Convention, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie announced the first slate of convention speakers. He added, "It is an honor to announce the addition of these outstanding Americans to the 2004 Republican National Convention program. For the past three and a half years, President Bush has led with strength and compassion and these speakers reflect that." Chief Executive Officer of the Convention Bill Harris commented, "These speakers have seen President Bush's strong, steady leadership and each will attest to his character from a unique perspective. Their vast experience and various points of view are a testament to the depth and breadth of the support for the Republican ticket in 2004."

Zell Miller

Considered to be one of the most interesting choices for speakers at the convention is a keynote address by Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat who usually votes with Republicans. In a Wall Street Journal editorial Miller cited that the reason for his defection was that, "I barely recognize my party anymore." He continued, "Today, it's the Democratic Party that has mastered the art of division and diversion. To run for president as a Democrat these days you have to go from interest group to interest group, cap in hand, asking for the support of liberal kingmakers." He finished by saying, "I still believe in hope and opportunity and, when it comes right down to it, Mr. Bush is the man who represents hope and opportunity."

His keynote address was an excoriating attack on John Kerry, blaming him for the divisions in America. His speech also praised 1940 Republican Presidential nominee Wendell Wilkie for supporting President Roosevelt's establishment of a military draft, raising concerns about the intentions of President Bush in this area.

Zell Miller also delivered the keynote address on behalf of Bill Clinton in 1992 at Madison Square Garden.

Nancy Reagan

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Michael Reagan pays tribute to his father, President Ronald Reagan, at the Republican National Convention

Absent from the slate of speakers was one of the most respected Republican elders and wife of the late President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan. In early August 2004, The New York Daily News and several other newspapers reported that Reagan vehemently declined several invitations to speak at the convention and had voiced her opposition to the use of quotes and images of her late husband, who died earlier in the year. Writers reported that she was disgusted by revelations that the Republican National Committee had produced, during the week of the presidential funeral, advertisements implying President Reagan endorsed Bush for a second term. The Bush campaign and party leaders defended themselves, claiming that they did not seek to exploit President Reagan's memory. Despite the published stories, Nancy Reagan's spokesperson countered with an admission that the former First Lady fully supported President Bush for the general election. The spokesperson added that while the former First Lady and her children would be absent from the 2004 Republican National Convention, President Reagan's son with Jane Wyman, Michael Reagan, had accepted an invitation to address the delegates. Nancy Reagan appeared in the filmed tribute he introduced. He dedicated the film to everyone who helped make his father president of the United States. Scenes from the week of the funeral were also shown in the video. He thanked Americans for what they did for his family during the week of ceremonies.

Full Schedule

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United States Senator John McCain, one of the most independent Republicans in thought and action spoke of President Bush, "He has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time, and I salute him. I salute his determination to make this world a better, safer, freer place."


Monday, August 30

Principal Speakers

Featured Speakers


  • "We should remember, it wasn't so long ago that confidence in New York was in short supply. When I took the oath of office nearly three years ago, we were a city in mourning a city that had, in a few dreadful hours, lost almost 3,000 of our own husbands, wives, sons, and daughters from every part of the nation, and every corner of the globe. There were those who doubted then whether this city could hold onto the gains made during the 90s under Mayor Giuliani. A lot of people were wondering what the future held for New York City, or whether we even had a future. But neither America nor President Bush ever stopped believing in us. Nearly two years ago, with the city's fate still a question mark in many minds, our President decided that this Convention would come to New York. This was a show of faith that required courage and vision one that all New Yorkers will not forget. And today it fills me with enormous pride and gratitude to tell everyone that New York City is back!" —Michael Bloomberg
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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani reminded delegates of President Bush's leadership during the September 11, 2001 attacks saying, "It was here in 2001 in lower Manhattan that President George W. Bush stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center and said to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us, They will hear from us. They have heard from us!"
  • "All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility. All other responsibilities come second. We must not lose sight of that as we debate who among us should bear the greatest responsibility for keeping us safe and free. We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time. My friends in the Democratic Party and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation. I don't doubt their sincerity. They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy. They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies. We agree." —John McCain
  • "We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences. But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them. Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity. We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight. We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender." —John McCain
  • "The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots, and his refusal, until his last day in power, to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal. Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents. And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls." —John McCain
  • "From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to President George W. Bush our party's great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world. And our party is at its best when it makes certain that we have a powerful national defense in a still very dangerous world. I don't believe we're right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything. Neither party has a monopoly on virtue. But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing." —Rudy Giuliani

Tuesday, August 31

Principal Speakers

Featured Speakers


  • "We live in a great country. A nation of good people in pursuit of great ideals defined by our Founders, defended by citizen-soldiers, and delivered to us. We inherited a great nation. So must our children! No nation whatever the size of its armed forces or economy can sustain greatness unless it educates all, not just some, of its citizens. No one understands that better than President Bush. He's always had a compassionate vision for education: Students challenged by high standards; teachers armed with proper resources; parents empowered with information and choices. Young adults with meaningful diplomas in their hands not despair in their hearts." —Rod Paige
  • "Now, many of you out there tonight are Republican like me in your hearts and in your beliefs. Maybe you're from Guatemala. Maybe you're from the Philippines. Maybe Europe or the Ivory Coast. Maybe you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or New Mexico. And maybe, just maybe, you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I believe that's not only okay, that's what's great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic still be American and still be good Republicans." —Arnold Schwarzenegger
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First Lady Laura Bush said of her husband, "He brings that optimism, that sense of promise, that certainty that a better day is before us to his job every day."
  • "My fellow Americans how do you know if you are a Republican? I'll tell you how. If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican! If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican! If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican! If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world, then you are a Republican! And, ladies and gentlemen if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican!" —Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • "There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people ...and faith in the U.S. economy. To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie men!" —Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • "We love Arnold. Isn't he awesome? Thanks to him, if one of us ever decides to marry a Democrat, nobody can complain. Except maybe our Grandmother, Barbara. And, if she didn't like it, we would definitely hear about it. We already know she doesn't like some of our clothes, or music, or most of the TV shows we watch. Ganny, we love you dearly, but you're just not very hip. She thinks Sex in the City is something married people do, but never talk about. We spent the last four years trying to stay out of the spotlight. Sometimes we did a little better than others. We kept trying to explain to Dad that when we were young and irresponsible, well, we were young and irresponsible." —Jenna Bush
  • "This time of war has been a time of great hardship for our military families. The President and I want all our men and women in uniform and their wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to know we appreciate their sacrifice. We know it will mean a more peaceful future for our children and grandchildren. No American President ever wants to go to war. Abraham Lincoln didn't want to go to war, but he knew saving the union required it. Franklin Roosevelt didn't want to go to war—but he knew defeating tyranny demanded it. And my husband didn't want to go to war, but he knew the safety and security of America and the world depended on it. I remember some very quiet nights at the dinner table. George was weighing grim scenarios and ominous intelligence about potentially even more devastating attacks. I listened many nights as George talked with foreign leaders on the phone, or in our living room, or at our ranch in Crawford. I remember an intense weekend at Camp David. George and Prime Minister Tony Blair were discussing the threat from Saddam Hussein. And I remember sitting in the window of the White House, watching as my husband walked on the lawn below. I knew he was wrestling with these agonizing decisions that would have such profound consequence for so many lives and for the future of our world. And I was there when my husband had to decide. Once again, as in our parents' generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the world toward greater security and freedom." —Laura Bush

Wednesday, September 1

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Considered by President Bush as rising stars in the national party, Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle addressed the convention.

Principal Speakers

Featured Speakers


  • "We step forward by never forgetting that America is a force for good in the world, fighting for freedom and human rights. On this, there is no question: George W. Bush is right and the Blame America First Crowd is wrong! Americans will rise to every challenge we face." —Mitt Romney
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United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, delivered an impassioned keynote address that characterized presidential candidate John Kerry as a weak commander-in-chief if elected.
  • "Where is the bi-partisanship in this country when we need it most? Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief." —Zell Miller
  • "Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home. For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag. 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." —Zell Miller
  • "And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror. Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40% of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom. The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq. The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11. I could go on and on and on: Against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel, Against the Aegis air-defense cruiser, Against the Strategic Defense Initiative, Against the Trident missile, against, against, against. 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?" —Zell Miller
  • "In the weeks and months after September 11, I had so many people come up to me and say how glad they were that George Bush and Dick Cheney were in the White House. I knew exactly what they meant. These men are strong, they are steadfast, they are exactly the leaders we need at this moment in our history." —Lynne Cheney
  • "Just as surely as the Nazis during World War Two and the Soviet communists during the Cold War, the enemy we face today is bent on our destruction. As in other times, we are in a war we did not start, and have no choice but to win. Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by a superb commander in chief, we will prevail. The fanatics who killed some 3,000 of our fellow Americans may have thought they could attack us with impunity because terrorists had done so previously. But if the killers of September 11th thought we had lost the will to defend our freedom, they did not know America and they did not know George W. Bush." —Dick Cheney
  • "I watch him at work every day. I have seen him face some of the hardest decisions that can come to the Oval Office and make those decisions with the wisdom and humility Americans expect in their president. George W. Bush is a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. He is a person of loyalty and kindness and he brings out these qualities in those around him. He is a man of great personal strength and more than that, a man with a heart for the weak, and the vulnerable, and the afflicted. We all remember that terrible morning when, in the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we lost at Pearl Harbor. We remember the President who came to New York City and pledged that the terrorists would soon hear from all of us. George W. Bush saw this country through grief and tragedy he has acted with patience, and calm, and a moral seriousness that calls evil by its name. In the great divide of our time, he has put this nation where America always belongs: against the tyrants of this world, and on the side of every soul on earth who yearns to live in freedom. Fellow citizens, our nation is reaching the hour of decision, and the choice is clear. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the judgment of the American people." —Dick Cheney

Thursday, September 2

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Pennsylvania delegates cast the votes needed to officially nominate President Bush to a second term.

Principal Speakers

Featured Speakers


  • "Over forty years ago, my parents sent me, as a young child, out of a land ruled by a Communist dictator and now, just forty-eight hours ago, I became the Republican nominee for the United States Senate from the great State of Florida. Only in America! Only in America can a fifteen year old boy arrive on our shores alone, not speaking the language with a suitcase and the hope of a brighter future and rise to serve in the cabinet of the President of the United States. And, only in America can that same young boy, today, stand one step away from making history as the first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Senate." —Mel Martinez
  • "I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. But I believe in democracy. I believe in America. After almost four decades as a Soldier I've been Independent — some would say very independent. But, here I stand tonight, endorsing George W. Bush to be the next President of the United States. America is a land of opportunity and a land of choice. A great war time President, Franklin Roosevelt, once said: 'Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.' Delegates and Friends I am prepared to 'choose wisely.' And I choose George W. Bush." —Tommy Franks
  • "America did not choose this war. But we have a President who chooses to win it. This is no ordinary time. The stakes could not be higher. Fate has handed our generation a grave new threat to freedom. And fortune has given us a leader who will defend that freedom. This is no ordinary time. And George W. Bush is no ordinary leader." —George Pataki
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After his acceptance speech, President Bush was joined by his father on the dais.
  • "Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens: I am honored by your support, and I accept your nomination for President of the United States. When I said those words four years ago, none of us could have envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart of this great city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning. We saw the bravery of rescuers grow with danger. We learned of passengers on a doomed plane who died with a courage that frightened their killers. We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet. And we have seen Americans in uniform storming mountain strongholds, and charging through sandstorms, and liberating millions, with acts of valor that would make the men of Normandy proud. Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb, and found the strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America and nothing will hold us back." —George W. Bush
  • "Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer." —George W. Bush
  • "In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand." —George W. Bush
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As President Bush accepted his nomination, thousands gathered in Union Park for a vigil dedicated to, according to United for Peace and Justice, "Those who have died or will die as a result of the Bush administration."
  • "To everything we know there is a season a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go forward grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, and may God continue to bless America." —George W. Bush


Main article: 2004 Republican National Convention protest activity

There are hundreds of groups organizing protests against the Republican National Convention, including United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 800 anti-war and social justice groups, and International ANSWER. So far, over 1800 individuals have been arrested by the authorities, a record for a political convention in the US.

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