The economy will be an issue for the 'Bush Legacy' bus during its nationwide 150-stop tour

Outside the Republican National Convention, a "Bush Legacy" bus tour has reached the city of St Paul.

The bus, funded by a campaigning organisation from Washington DC, is travelling across the US to highlight once again some of the most unpopular policies introduced during George Bush's eight years as president.

The invasion of Iraq, the government's slow response to hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the struggling US economy all feature heavily on the touring exhibition, alongside concerns over the environment, workers rights and health care.

"Everywhere we go, we have hundreds of people who approach us to talk about how Bush's failed conservative policies have affected them," says Julie Blust the tour's press secretary.

But that view was not echoed inside the Xcel centre, where Bush, who made his last speech to a Republican National Convention as US leader on Tuesday via satellite, was given a warm reception by the crowd.

Bush's speech, made from the White House and broadcast on giant video screen, looked ahead to supporting John McCain's candidacy. 

The only talk of legacy was reserved for his response to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"We live in a dangerous world," Bush told the convention, to cheers from the crowd.

"And we need a president who understands the lessons of September 11, 2001 - that to protect America, we must stay on the offence, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again.

'Difficult choices'

Bush told the Xcel centre faithful that the US needed to 'stay on the offence' [AFP]

 

 

Speaking to Al Jazeera, former Republican administration officials echoed that view that Bush's security polices were his biggest success but acknowledged other areas may have suffered in consequence.

"I was there for six years of George Bush's administration. I remember on the day after 9/11 he went from a peacetime president to a wartime president," Dennis Hastert, the Republican former speaker of the US House of Representatives.

"In peacetime you're talking about healthcare, education real energy reform and that all had to be all put aside to make sure that he could protect the American people."

"And he did that, he made a commitment that we would not let that happen to this country again and he made good on it and I think that's how history will see George Bush and that will be his legacy."

Ed Rogers a former senior adviser to George HW Bush, president from 1988-1992 and the current president's father, agreed.

"There have been no attacks since 9-11," Rogers said, "and Bush himself has not gotten credit for some of the things he has done."

Rogers also said Bush should be credited for the way he has attempted to deal with the rising challenge of Iran.

Plummetting polls

But the legacy he has left the US and Republicans remains in question, even among some party loyalists.

The US leader faces some of the lowest approval ratings since polls began and John McCain, who was set to formally accept the nomination on Thursday, has held few public appearances with the current occupant of the White House.

The challenge for many at the convention this week is how to openly maintain their support for George Bush while still welcoming the changes McCain might bring.

And on the convention floor itself some delegates acknowledged that Bush faced a problem with his image.

"I think that Bush will be judged much more kindly in the future than he is now unfortunately," said Brant Bell a delegate from Tennessee.

"We're not going to know the outcome of Iraq for another 50 or 100 years and we don't know how it is going to play out."

Luis Alvaredo, a delegate from California, said that overall Bush had done a good job.

"He did exactly what he knew was going to be best for the country, despite knowing it would cost him his legacy in terms of foreign policy."

The US leader has, in public at least, the support of Republicans at the convention.

But it seems unlikely that many of them will be calling on George Bush to publicly campaign in their districts on a regular basis ahead of November's poll.

Source: Al Jazeera