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He's so sweet

Mais uma vez, o Bush deixa claro que a cara de fratboy bobão dele é só pra inglês ver. O consolo é que é por conta dele ter caído nas pesquisas, o medo é que Al Gore II, slightly less boring, consiga o feito de perder de novo. Da primeira vez, a pergunta é como ele perdeu no meio da maior bolha de prosperidade da história. Agora, como ele vai perder pra um presidente cujo "ponto forte" é a segurança - e no governo dele morreram 4.000 americanos pela violência estrangeira, o centro de Nova Iorque tem um "ground zero," e a paranóia virou política de governo e clima nacional. E isso é o ponto forte.

Mr Bush's speech before a fervent Republican audience had been billed by Bush administration officials as a significant presidential address on the economy and the "war on terror".

But the president instead used the ample television time afforded him by the cable networks to offer a more biting attack on Mr Kerry, punctuating his stump speech with new laugh lines and a mocking portrayal of his opponent.

Mr Kerry "once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war", Mr Bush said, offering a summary of the Democratic presidential candidate's apparently conflicting stances on the military invasion of Iraq. "You hear all that and you understand why somebody would make a face," Mr Bush added, as a delighted crowd rose to its feet to applaud a president whose first debate performance was noted for his scowls and grimaces.

Mr Bush said Mr Kerry had a "20-year history of weakness in the US senate", a "strategy of retreat in Iraq" and a "September 10 mindset".

The biting personal attack was leavened by a series of new witticisms and old gags. Mr Bush damned Mr Kerry's healthcare proposals as a return to "Clinton care". He pledged to be a president "who will stand up to trial lawyers, not put one on the ticket" - a reference to John Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate.

He sneered at Mr Kerry as the only politician in history to run for president on a pledge of raising taxes - and "that is the kind of promise that a politician from Massachusetts usually keeps".

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