US President George W Bush called Republican presidential hopeful John McCain the candidate who "understands the lessons" of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to excerpts released ahead of his address to the party convention on Tuesday.
Bush was set to speak later on Tuesday by satellite to convention delegates gathered in St Paul, Minnesota. He was originally to appear in person Monday but cancelled the visit due to Hurricane Gustav's arrival on the Gulf Coast.
Bush will make the case that McCain is an independent thinker who is best able to lead the country in a time of war, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House.
"We live in a dangerous world. 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," Bush said.
"John McCain's life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation," he said.
Republicans have hammered Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who was elected to the Senate in 2004, for being unprepared to lead the country. Bush makes no specific references to Obama in the excerpts provided.
With Bush's approval ratings hovering below 30 per cent, the McCain campaign has been keeping the president at arms-length in the campaign. McCain has appeared publicly with Bush only once - at a private fundraiser - since the president endorsed him in March.
Hurricane Gustav forced Bush to cancel his appearance Monday at the convention, but his speech via satellite Tuesday will still be closely watched.
Bush was to headline a convention night that includes independent Senator Joe Lieberman, a one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate, and actor and former presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Democrats used their own convention last week in Denver, Colorado, to link McCain's policies to those of the Bush presidency, arguing that McCain simply brings "more of the same".
The McCain campaign has touted their candidate's long-held reputation as a maverick unafraid to go against his own party, and Bush alludes to that reputation in his speech.
"John is an independent man who thinks for himself. Hes not afraid to tell you when he disagrees," Bush said, according to the excerpts. "No matter what the issue, this man is honest and speaks straight from the heart."
McCain will accept the Republican Party's nomination on Thursday.