Ge­orge W Bush wins sec­ond term

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Ge­orge W Bush has won a sec­ond term as pres­i­dent of the United States, beat­ing his Demo­cratic ri­val, John Kerry, by a com­fort­able mar­gin.

Mr Bush won about 51% of the vote and at least 274 elec­toral col­lege votes against John Kerry's 48% and 252 votes.

Re­sults are still awaited in New Mex­ico and Iowa but they can­not af­fect the out­come.

Mr Bush's vic­tory was an­nounced af­ter Mr Kerry phoned him at the White House to ad­mit de­feat.

In a four-minute con­ver­sa­tion, Mr Kerry con­grat­u­lated the pres­i­dent, while Mr Bush called the Demo­crat "an ad­mirable, wor­thy op­po­nent".

Strong man­date

In his vic­tory speech, Mr Bush said, "I am proud to lead such an amaz­ing coun­try and I am proud to lead it for­ward."

He said tax re­form, so­cial se­cu­rity and ed­u­ca­tion would be pri­or­i­ties for his sec­ond four-year term.

He also said the US would "help the emerg­ing democ­ra­cies of Afghanistan and Iraq to grow in strength and free­dom".

The re­sult means Mr Bush has a stronger man­date than four years ago, when he won only af­ter a 36-day le­gal bat­tle over a re­count in Florida.

Florida has used elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines this year to re­place the punch cards which cre­ated so many prob­lems in the last poll.

The me­dia has also been no­tice­ably more cau­tious in their re­port­ing of re­sults across the coun­try, with CBS pre­sen­ter Dan Rather say­ing at one stage, "I would rather be last than wrong."

Close con­test

The con­test was again ex­tremely close through­out, with both men neck-and-neck in opin­ion polls right un­til vot­ing ended.

Af­ter early vic­to­ries by Mr Kerry in New Jersey and Penn­syl­va­nia, Mr Bush be­gan win­ning state af­ter state.

The key state of Ohio de­clared for the pres­i­dent early this morn­ing.

Na­tional se­cu­rity and the war in Iraq have dom­i­nated the cam­paign, with the econ­omy largely tak­ing sec­ond place.

World lead­ers con­grat­u­lated Mr Bush on his vic­tory, al­though some warned of the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing him in the Mid­dle East.

Bri­tish Prime Minister Tony Blair said he looked for­ward to con­tin­u­ing his strong re­la­tion­ship with Ge­orge Bush.

But, he added, "The need to re­vi­talise the Mid­dle East peace process is the sin­gle most press­ing po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge in our world to­day."

The fi­nal re­sult was 286 elec­toral col­lege votes to Pres­i­dent Bush, while John Kerry won 252.

The early days of Ge­orge Bush's sec­ond term in of­fice were marked by sev­eral high-pro­file res­ig­na­tions.

Among them was the Sec­re­tary of State, Colin Pow­ell, who re­signed on 15 Novem­ber.

His suc­ces­sor was the more hawk­ish Con­doleezza Rice - the first black woman to serve in the of­fice.

True to pre­dic­tions of con­sol­i­da­tion rather than re­form, Ge­orge Bush's sec­ond pres­i­dency has con­tin­ued much as be­fore, dom­i­nated by the war in Iraq and the fight against ter­ror­ism.

How­ever, his term in of­fice has been over­shad­owed by the dev­as­ta­tion wrought by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, which hit New Or­leans and the Gulf States in Au­gust 2005.

There was bit­ing crit­i­cism af­ter Mr Bush and his ad­min­is­tra­tion failed to re­act to the cri­sis, leav­ing tens of thou­sands of mainly poor black Amer­i­cans liv­ing in ap­palling con­di­tions with­out as­sis­tance for a week.

The pres­i­dent dropped to an all-time low in the opin­ion polls and was forced to ac­cept per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for the han­dling of the dis­as­ter, in one of the worst set­backs of his pres­i­den­tial ca­reer.

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