President Bush speaks at the RNC

ST. PAUL, Minn. - September 2, 2008 - "I've sat at the Resolute desk and received the daily intelligence briefings, the threat assessments and the reports from our commanders on the front lines," Bush told delegates to the Republican National Convention in Minnesota via video hookup from the White House. "I know the hard choices that fall solely to a president. John McCain's life has prepared him to make those choices."

Bush added: "He is ready to lead this nation."

Inside the hall, the Bush family legacy was on display. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, drew a standing ovation when he entered the arena with his wife, Barbara, and other relatives.

And first lady Laura Bush took the podium to introduce the president's address.

She was the voice of defense for her husband's record, tossing out statistics on everything from education gains to fighting AIDS across the globe. She said that when Bush took office, fewer than 50,000 Africans suffering from AIDS were getting the medicine they needed to survive, and that the number now is nearly 2 million.

"You might call that change you can really believe in," the first lady said, a clear poke at the slogan of McCain's opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.

She also praised McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate, saying: "I'm proud that America's first female vice president will be a Republican woman."

The image of Bush standing alone before a television camera in the White House's majestic Cross Hall was beamed onto giant video screens 1,100 miles away in the Xcel Energy Center.

His eight-minute address was a far cry from earlier plans, sidelined by Hurricane Gustav's landfall, for the president to make a dramatic, celebratory appearance Monday in person as the final speaker on the convention's opening night.

Execution of the alternate plan was a bit awkward.

The crowd rose to its feet to applaud Laura Bush's introductory remarks just as the president - apparently unaware of the clamor in the hall - had started speaking. As a result, his opening words were drowned out. On several other occasions, his words were lost when he continued talking over cheers in the hall.

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