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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:02 a.m., Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Victorious president must lead our healing

In this crucial election that generated one of the strongest voter turnouts in decades, President George W, Bush has won a second term.

With Sen. John Kerry's decision not to contest Bush's lead in Ohio, the nation is spared the bitter post-election struggle endured four years ago.

In a graceful concession speech, Kerry said he had made a congratulatory call to Bush and that the two discussed "the need — the desperate need — for unity, for finding common ground and coming together."

"Today, I hope we can begin the healing," Kerry said.

In a victory speech delivered less than an hour later, Bush said, "We have one country, one constitution and one future."

And he acknowledged that with his re-election comes "a duty to serve all Americans."

He must fulfill that duty by bringing the country together to face daunting domestic and international challenges.

At home, there are major issues for Bush to contend with, including controlling the soaring national debt, dealing with exploding Medicare and Medicaid costs and coming up with a coherent and sustainable national energy policy.

Abroad, the first goal is to come up with policies that will evaluate the situation in Iraq and set a date certain for the return of American troops.

And our "war on terrorism" must be refocused where it should have been all along, on al-Qaida and like-minded terrorist groups around the world.

A bitter and hard-fought campaign has exposed the extent to which we are a nation divided. It's time for our president to heal that divide.