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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November 2004, 16:56 GMT
Profile: George W Bush
Paul Reynolds
By Paul Reynolds
World Affairs Correspondent, BBC News website

George W Bush was re-elected President of the United States on 2 November 2004.

George W Bush
Bush feels that he has the policies and abilities to serve a second term

He won both the popular vote - by 51% to 48% - and was comfortably ahead in the Electoral College.

He therefore laid the ghosts of 2000 to rest when he lost in the popular vote and had to rely on a decision in the Supreme Court to confirm his victory.

He projected himself during the election campaign as the strong leader who could defend the United States in a time of war.

He also appealed to the conservative mood of the American people.

He was successful on both counts.

In his first term, events did not turn out quite as he predicted when he came to office promising to be a "uniter not a divider" and as someone who believed in a "humble" foreign policy.

He had to fight for a second term with his country and the world divided over the war he launched against Saddam Hussein.

Supporters and opponents agree that his finest hour came when he rallied the United States after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

He has struggled to find the same support for the war in Iraq.

Yet he has not wavered in his determination nor in his belief that he was right - despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

Born 6 July 1946 in Connecticut
Grew up in Texas
1968: Graduated from Yale
1968-73: Fighter pilot in Texas Air National Guard
1975: MBA from Harvard Business School
Career in Texas energy business
1989: PArt-owner of Texas Rangers baseball team
1994: Became Texas governor; re-elected 1998
2000: Elected US president
2004: Re-elected president
Married to Laura Bush; twin daughters Jenna and Barbara
In winning a second term, he has outshone his father who was defeated by Bill Clinton in his bid for re-election in 1992.

President George Bush Senior was something of a patrician, who followed Rudyard Kipling's advice to treat triumph and disaster as impostors both.

For President George Bush Junior (a description he hates, hence his insistence on using his middle initial W to distinguish him from his father), re-election has not only validated him as a leader, but as a war leader at that.

It has partly made up for the loss his father suffered after his first term. He might even take pride in outshining his parent.

For George W Bush, re-election has also validated the views of middle America.

At a dinner for correspondents in Washington in 2001, he poked fun at himself for mangling the English language, but then paused and said: "But you know, life goes on."

It did not really matter, he was suggesting, to ordinary folk.

"Folk" is a word he likes a lot.

Tough decisions

Rightly or wrongly, George W Bush has taken big decisions.

George Bush Senior (l) with George W Bush (r)
Re-election means Bush has been able to eclipse his father
In 2001 and 2002, he responded to the crisis of 11 September by declaring a "war on terror", overthrowing the Taleban and developing a doctrine of pre-emptive intervention.

He seemed to come of age as a president when he stood on the rubble of the World Trade Center and declared that "those who did this will soon hear from us".

In 2003, he went a stage further. He invaded Iraq.

Was it a stage too far? It has already proved far more difficult than forecast.

But those voters who have delivered Mr Bush his second term were either persuaded that Iraq is on the path towards representative government, or simply did not feel that the situation there warranted his ejection.

Tony Blair with George W Bush
The UK prime minister is among Mr Bush's admirers
In domestic politics, too, Mr Bush has not shied away from taking hard, some would say harsh, decisions. In 2003, he cut taxes again, despite a rising budget deficit.

He argued that the economy needed a boost and it has got one. But he was accused of robbing the poor to pay the rich.

Alll this puts him rather far away from the description he once gave of himself, in an interview with the BBC on his governor's campaign bus in Texas over a bowl of fresh popcorn, as someone who unites not divides.

That was how he, as governor, was seen in Texas. The wider world is a different place. In some places he has attracted both love and loathing. In others it is mostly loathing.

George W Bush has brought to his presidency the fervour with which became a born-again Christian during his younger years and the commitment with which he suddenly gave up drinking.

He has something of the convert about him.

George W Bush during his time in the Texas Air National Guard
Bush was a part-time pilot and was never sent to war
And yet, those who have met him often say that he charms them. Certainly, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of them.

Tony Blair admired George W Bush for more than a firm handgrip and a look straight in the eye.

He saw in him a soulmate who was ready to change the world. The British prime minister had already demonstrated over Kosovo in 1999 that he was quite prepared to use ground troops.

The then American President, Bill Clinton, was taken aback.

George W Bush was not. He and Tony set out to put the world to rights.

Whether they will be seen as knights in shining armour or as a version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza is for the cartoonists and the history books.

From Texas to Washington

It took a long time for Mr Bush's character to emerge.

His upbringing in a successful political family opened many doors. He was at private schools and went to Yale University, but he seemed to have no idea where it should lead. Instead, he was a party boy, even, or perhaps especially, at Yale.

George W Bush at Yale
Bush became known for his parties while at Yale
During the Vietnam war, he signed up, not for actual combat, as did his erstwhile Democratic opponent John Kerry, but as a part-time pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, which was never sent to the war.

Then he started to get serious. He made money in business, by selling the Texas Rangers, a baseball franchise he had bought cheaply - as part of a group of investors - and developed shrewdly.

He listened to his wife's concerns about his lifestyle and changed it. After an unsuccessful run for the US Congress, he went into state politics.

His opponent for the Texas governorship, the incumbent Ann Richards, made a big mistake. She dismissed him as "Shrub". She lost.

George W Bush has always had one huge advantage. His opponents have often underestimated him.

He has now, in his own words, fought his last race. So he has had the last word.

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