Republican National Convention Day 4: September 4, 2008

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: REPUBLICAN CONVENTION COVERAGE

The Republican Ticket John McCain and Sarah Palin after McCain accepted the Republican nomination. (CNN)

The Republican Ticket John McCain and Sarah Palin after McCain accepted the Republican nomination. (CNN)

2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography

Day 4 Schedule

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2008The 2008 Republican National Convention today announced the full program of events for Thursday, Sept. 4. The evening’s program will feature John McCain’s speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency. Among the other speakers participating in this evening’s program are Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.), former Gov. Tom Ridge (Penn.), U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Mrs. Cindy McCain. The speakers’ remarks will reflect the convention’s overall theme, “Country First,”and the theme for Thursday’s events, which is “peace.”
Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday in St. Paul. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

    THURSDAY’S SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

    Gov. Jon Huntsman (Utah), Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.), U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin (Okla.), U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Joe Gibbs, Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Penn.), Mrs. Cindy McCain. Presidential Nominee John McCain.
    GOP Convention 2008

John McCain waving to the audience at the GOP convention. (CNN)

John McCain waving to the audience at the GOP convention. (CNN)

Highlights:

  • PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer: Photos from the Final Day of the Republican Convention – PBS/Flickr
  • September 4, 2008: McCain preps for big TV speech at convention as workers rebuild stage … Obama strategist: Palin looks a lot like Washington politics she seeks to change … Biden says he’ll vigorously challenge Palin but refrain from personal attacks … Environmentalists say Palin’s record on wildlife as harsh as Alaska itself. – AP, 9-4-08
    McCain caps GOP convention vowing ‘change is coming’ to Washington … Obama says Republicans attack him to avoid talking about economy and housing problems … Palin keeps up criticism of Obama as she ventures out solo to campaign … Biden says he’ll vigorously challenge Palin but refrain from personal attacks. – AP, 9-4-08
Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday in St. Paul. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

Stats & In the News…

  • Galvanized Parties Head to Homestretch – WaPo, 9-5-08
  • Gallup Inc.’s tracking polls show that McCain’s support grew among white Republican women after Palin joined the ticket on Aug. 29. – Bloomberg, 9-4-08
  • Palin Pick May Narrow The Enthusiasm Gap – WaPo, 9-4-08
  • The Party in Power, Running as if It Weren’t – NYT, 9-5-08
  • To G.O.P., McCain Issues Call for Change – NYT, 9-5-08
  • McCain Casts GOP Ticket as Force for Reform – Fox News, 9-4-08
  • Protesters interrupt McCain speech – AP, 9-4-08
  • McCain to give acceptance speech on rebuilt stage – AP, 9-4-08
  • The campaign on the Talk Show Circuit- Fox News, 9-3-08
  • Sarah Palin electrified the Republican convention Wednesday, all the while reading off a faulty teleprompter and an outdated draft – Fox News, 9-4-08
  • Sarah Palin’s speech wins TV ratings battle in landslide – NY Daily News, 9-4-08
  • Poll gives Obama edge in two of three key states – CNN 9-3-08
McCain accepting the Republican nomination for president (CNN)

McCain accepting the Republican nomination for president (CNN)

Historians’ Comments

  • Richard Norton Smith, Michael Beschloss, Peniel Joseph on “Historians Examine McCain’s Message of ‘Change'”: panel of historians discuss the strengths and weaknesses of John McCain’s acceptance speech and the GOP message of “change” in Washington. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: I think so. You know, it’s interesting. Clearly, the Democrats have no monopoly on hope and change, because the biggest change that occurred this week is this party has hope. This is a party that came in to St. Paul, if not defeatist, then, quite frankly, highly skeptical of its own chances. This was a party that came here not terribly unified, not altogether thrilled about its nominee. All of that, I think, has been transformed in the course of the last three days. You could feel it last night during Governor Palin’s speech. You can feel it tonight. It’s interesting the pivot away from George Bush. Senator McCain spent more time tonight apologizing for the last eight years than he did boasting about the last eight years. And, finally, we’ve talked several times about whether this was too biographical, whether there was a lack of specifics, particularly on economic issues….My sense is the Republicans are very good at stagecraft. And I think the biography that we’ve heard all week long melded very nicely into the substance, if you will, of the speech. Sen. Obama is in for the fight of his life. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: Absolutely. Three big things stand out to me about this week, Jim, first, God, guns, and country. Those are the resounding themes of this convention linked to biography and really linked to the pick of Sarah Palin. Second, Palin has successfully solidified McCain’s conservative base. And she really gave a speech last night that echoed Pat Buchanan’s 1992 culture wars speech, but she did it more elegantly. Finally, diversity, or lack thereof. This convention’s delegates are 93 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black. This party has seemingly ceded the minority vote to Barack Obama and the Democrats, which may have real clear electoral implications. In 2004, George Bush got 14 percent of the black vote in Ohio and 56 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida, two key swing states that got him re-elected. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Yes, it sure is. You know, it was a great speech, Jim, easily the greatest speech that John McCain ever gave. And you can see the difference between Tuesday night and tonight. This is a party with enormous intensity, especially after a very powerful speech by Sarah Palin last night. And the interesting thing is, about 10 days ago, John McCain by all accounts was intending to choose Joe Lieberman and go in a very different direction, which would have been to — you know, cause there to be a bridge to Democrats, try to go for independents, knowing that the group in this room probably would not have been as enthusiastic as they are tonight with the choice of Sarah Palin. The interesting thing is going to be whether he can augment this kind of intensity in the hall, in this party, in his base with the kind of independents in swing states he’s going to need to win the election….You know, when you look at these speeches, you know, the people who write them always looked at acceptance speeches of the past. And this one had references to other acceptance speeches by earlier nominees, but the ones that I found were all Democrats. Harry Truman, 1948, both he and McCain referred to a do-nothing Congress. John Kennedy, McCain talked tonight about getting this country moving again. And of all things, Al Gore in 2000, “I will fight for you.” I think one of the things that we would have expected perhaps least would be that John McCain would be quoting Al Gore. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Richard Norton-Smith and Peniel Joseph: Historians Explores Trends Within Both Parties as RNC Wraps Up Richard Norton-Smith and Peniel Joseph sat down with Ray Suarez as the Republican National Convention enters its last day. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith, Peniel Joseph: Making GOP History Analysts and historians offer perspective on the first Republican woman nominated to be vice president and the campaign road ahead. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph: “Historians See Goldwater, Reagan as Top GOP Acceptance Speeches” – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith: Norton Smith chose Barry Goldwater’s 1964 address in San Francisco, where he had the choice as the nominee to reach out to moderate Republicans angry with his policies. In the end, Goldwater “ran as himself.” “He denounced the pale pastels of the opposition. He basically read the liberals and moderate in his own party out of the party. It is a militant speech. It is a principled speech. It is courageous speech. It is a speech fundamentally at odds with the political climate of 1964,” Norton Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Peniel Joseph: Joseph picked Ronald Reagan’s 1980 speech in Detroit in which he criticizes the previous four years of Democratic control. “He really says and argues that the Democratic Party is claiming that America’s best days are behind us,” Joseph said. “And Reagan says, I disagree, the best days are ahead of us. And we need to do this through tax cuts; we need to do it through economic stimulus, by letting big businesses explode. We need to have a strong defense. Reagan really succeeds in tapping into a notion of optimism.” – PBS Newshour, 9-4-08
  • Stephen Haycox on “Hawaii, Alaska embrace campaign connections”: Natives of both states hope that the campaign-driven media attention will help mainlanders understand them better. But so far it hasn’t helped, said Stephen Haycox, a history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
    And Alaska? Haycox noted the names of Palin’s children in commenting: “I suppose the perception is that people here are a wee bit odd. . . . But with kids with names like Bristol, Willow and Piper, I think it’s going to confirm all the images about Alaska.” – Boston Globe, 9-4-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Palin Pick Shows Lost Clout of Republicans’ Old Establishment”: McCain’s surprise selection of the 44-year-old Palin was clearly aimed at firing up the Republican Party’s core of social conservatives, said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University. “In an election where everyone was talking about the return of moderates, this is a clear move to the right,” Zelizer said. “This is not a Joe Lieberman choice.” – Bloomberg, 9-4-08
  • Robert Rupp: Convention ’08: Live From St. Paul, It’s Convention Analysis – Chronicle for Higher Education, 9-4-08
  • Allan Lichtman on CTV Newsnet: Allan Lichtman, history professor at American University, says Sarah Palin didn’t completely outline her stance on key issues – CTV Newsnet, 9-3-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, this was a beat-up-on-Barack night, which is exactly what you expect from a keynoter. I thought Mayor Giuliani performed his role to the delight of everyone in the crowd. And it turned out he only warmed them up. There’s no doubt movements conservatives have themselves a new heroine, as of this evening. This will be a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans. It will be fascinating — I’d be interested to hear from Andy — it’d be fascinating to know if this plays as well among particularly independent voters out there who are watching this convention to find out not only what this party is against — and we heard a lot about that tonight — but what they’re for, particularly in the realm of the economy. And one final thing, I do wonder whether “drill, baby, drill” will take its place in the lexicon alongside “I like Ike.” – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, I think it happened, Richard. One note on political theater. You’ll note that, when John McCain came on stage — this is a first in history — a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate hugged in public. 1984, when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro, they and their handlers decided that the American people couldn’t take the sight of these candidates hugging. So all through the campaign, they very carefully sort of held hands, held hands in the air, nothing more than that until after they lost. And Geraldine Ferraro said, “Can I finally hug you?” She did, indeed. I think the one thing as far as the speech — speech was fine, well-delivered, loved in the hall. But this is a woman that Americans know extremely little about, especially for a national nominee. And this speech didn’t tell us really very much beyond what we knew already, and that’s going to make it even more important in the future when she gives speeches that are more impromptu and when she submits to interrogations by reporters and average American citizens. – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, a really strong speech designed to appeal to white women voters. When we control for race and we think about the gender gap, in 2000, Al Gore received 48 percent of white female votes. In 2004, it was down to 44 percent. So, really, the overwhelming number of African-American women voters and Hispanic voters that provides Democrats with that edge. And this speech was designed to really appeal to those voters. She called herself a hockey mom. And that really translates to the Midwest when we think about suburban soccer moms….Well, she exceeded expectations. People really — building on what Michael said — didn’t know what to expect, a lot of rumors, a lot of controversy about the surprise pick. She exceeded expectations. She’s poised. She’s calm. She’s cool and collected. She looked ready for primetime tonight. – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
  • Gil Troy on the Republican National Convention: McGill University Professor of History, Gil Troy, weighs in on the Republican National Convention in the United States. – CTV Newsnet, 9-3-08

The Speeches….

John McCain accepting the Republican nomination. (CNN)

John McCain accepting the Republican nomination. (CNN)

Tonight, I have a privilege given few Americans: the privilege of accepting our party’s nomination for president of the United States…

Thank you. I — and I accept it with gratitude, humility, and confidence.

In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn’t any different. That’s a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They’re leaders of great ability who love our country and wish to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor that I won’t forget.

I’m grateful to the president of the United States for leading us in these dark days following the worst attack in American history.

The worst attack on American soil in our history and keeping us safe from another attack that many — many thought was inevitable.

And to the first lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private.

And I’m grateful to the 41st president and his bride of 63 years for their outstanding example…

… for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country. As always, I’m indebted to my wife, Cindy, and my seven children. You know, the pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded calendar of our nation’s business. But I have treasured them all the more and can’t imagine a life without the happiness that you’ve given me.

You know, Cindy said a lot of nice things about me tonight. But, in truth, she’s more my inspiration than I am hers.

Her concern for those less blessed than we are — victims of land mines, children born in poverty, with birth defects — shows the measure of her humanity. And I know that she will make a great first lady.

My friends, when I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone. Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief that we’re all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn’t be here tonight but for the strength of her character.

And she doesn’t want me to say this, but she’s 96 years young.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped me win this nomination and stood by me when the odds were long. I won’t let you down….

And, finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We’ll go at it — we’ll go at it over the next two months — you know that’s the nature of this business — and there are big differences between us.

But you have my respect and my admiration.

Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that’s an association that means more to me than any other.

We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. No country — no country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn’t be an American worthy of the name if I didn’t honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.

But let there be no doubt, my friends: We’re going to win this election.

And after we’ve won, we’re going to reach out our hand to any willing patriot, make this government start working for you again, and get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace.

I know these are tough times for many of you. You’re worried about…

Please, please, please. My friends, my dear friends, please. Please don’t be diverted by the ground noise and the static.

You know, I’m going to talk about it some more. But Americans want us to stop yelling at each other, OK?…

And I’ve found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Governor Sarah…

Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

And I want to thank everyone here and all over America for the tremendous, wonderful, warm reception you gave her last night. Thank you so much. She deserves it. What a great beginning….

I’m very proud to have introduced our next vice president to the country, but I can’t wait until I introduce her to Washington.

And let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second crowd: Change is coming.

John McCain accepting the Republican Partys nomination.  (CNN)

John McCain accepting the Republican Party's nomination. (CNN)

I’m not — I’m not in the habit of breaking my promises to my country, and neither is Governor Palin. And when we tell you we’re going to change Washington and stop leaving our country’s problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it.

We’ve got a record of doing just that, and the strength, experience, judgment, and backbone to keep our word to you.

You well know I’ve been called a maverick, someone who…

… someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it’s meant as a compliment; sometimes it’s not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for myself. I work for you….

I’ve fought the big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, and the first big-spending pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it. I will make them famous, and you will know their names. You will know their names….

I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.

I fight for Americans. I fight for you….

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us.

We lost — we lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties — and Senator Obama — passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust when we valued our power over our principles.

We’re going to change that.

We’re going to recover the people’s trust by standing up again to the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.

In this country, we believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential, from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We’re all God’s children, and we’re all Americans.

We believe — we believe in low taxes, spending discipline, and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk-takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor.

We believe — we believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life…

… personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don’t legislate from the bench.

We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods, and communities. We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans, government that doesn’t make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.

I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will open…

I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them.

I will cut government spending. He will increase it.

My tax cuts will create jobs; his tax increases will eliminate them….

I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy, and it often sees that your government hasn’t even noticed. Government assistance for the unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That’s going to change on my watch.

Now, my opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We’re going to help workers who’ve lost a job that won’t come back find a new one that won’t go away….

Education — education is the civil rights issue of this century.

Equal access to public education has been gained, but what is the value of access to a failing school? We need… We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice.

Let’s remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parent — when it fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them.

Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have the choice, and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucrats. I want schools to answer to parents and students.

And when I’m president, they will.

My fellow Americans, when I’m president, we’re going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades.

We’re going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much, and some of that money…

We’ll attack — we’ll attack the problem on every front. We’ll produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells off-shore, and we’ll drill them now. We’ll drill them now….

Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that.

We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and restore the health of our planet.

My friends…… it’s an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we’ve faced greater challenges. It’s time for us to show the world again how Americans lead….

As president, I’ll work to establish good relations with Russia so that we need not fear a return to the Cold War. But we can’t turn a blind eye to aggression and international lawlessness that threatens the peace and stability of the world and the security of the American people.

We face many dangerous threats in this dangerous world, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m prepared for them.

I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it shouldn’t do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it.

I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don’t.

I know how to secure the peace….

In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home with me.

I hate war. It’s terrible beyond imagination.

I’m running for president to keep the country I love safe and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal — diplomatic, economic, military, and the power of our ideals — to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.

In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us; we don’t need to search for it.

We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children.

All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution, and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington….

Again and again — again and again, I’ve worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That’s how I will govern as president. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again.

My friends… … I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.

Instead — instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn’t think of them first, let’s use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let’s try sharing it.

This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I’ll ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.

We’re going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us, and I won’t care who gets the credit.

My friends, I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I’ve been her servant first, last, and always. And I’ve never…

I’ve never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn’t thank God for the privilege….

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people.

I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.

I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.

My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

My friends, if you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist…

Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an — an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed.

Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier, because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

I’m going to fight for my cause every day as your president. I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank him, that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on Earth. And with hard work — with hard word, strong faith, and a little courage, great things are always within our reach.

Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what’s right for our country. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children’s future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other, for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up, and fight.

Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up.

We never quit.

We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America.

Cindy McCain addressing the Republican National Convention before her husband, Sen. John McCain accepts the partys nomination for President. (CNN)

Cindy McCain addressing the Republican National Convention before her husband, Sen. John McCain accepts the party's nomination for President. (CNN)

…John and I are so pleased and so happy to have them here with us tonight. Nothing has made me happier or more fulfilled in my life than being a mother.

But while John and I take great joy in having been able to spend time together this week as a family, our hearts go out to the thousands of families who have had to leave their homes, once again, due to devastating weather.

It’s not — it’s not our natural instinct to rally to them, to lift them up with our prayers, to come to their aid. It’s also our duty as a country.

That duty is what brings me before you tonight, and it’s a much larger, more important than John or me or any of us. It’s the work of this great country calling us together, and there’s no greater duty than that, no more essential task for our generation right now.

That’s been very much on my mind these last few months as I’ve traveled our country. Each day, after the bands packed up, and the speeches were done, and the camera lights darkened, I always came back to how blessed and honored I was to be a part of our national conversation.

And in these times, when so many of our fellow Americans face difficult situations, what I saw moved me deeply: Families worried about losing their homes. Towns deserted by industries once at their center. Mothers with no choice but to send their children to unsafe and underperforming schools.

But I have also seen the resilience of the American people. I’ve heard stirring stories of neighbor helping neighbor, cities on one end of the country offering help to fellow citizens on the other.

Despite our challenges, our hearts are still alive with hope and belief in the individual ability to make things right, if only the federal government would get itself under control and out of our way.

And so tonight is about renewing our commitment to one another, because this campaign is not about us. It’s about our special and exceptional country. And this convention celebrates a special and exceptional Republican Party. The hand we feel on our shoulder belongs to Abraham Lincoln. Our country was born …

Our country was — our country was born amidst the struggle for freedom, and our party arose from a great battle for human rights, dignity, and equality for all people.

We give way to no one and no other party in that cause.

From its very birth, our party has been grounded in the notion of service, community, self-reliance, and it’s all tempered by a uniquely American faith in and compassion for each other’s neighbors. A helping hand and friendly support has always been our way.

It’s no surprise that Americans are the most generous people in history.

That generosity of spirit is in our national DNA. It’s our way of doing things. It’s how we view the world.

I was taught that Americans can look at the world and ask either what do other countries think of us or we can look at ourselves and ask, what would our forefathers make of us and what will our children say of us?

That’s a big challenge. In living up to it, we know the security and the prosperity of our nation is about a lot more than politics. It also depends on a personal commitment, a sense of history, and a clear view of the future. I know of no one who better defines how to do that, whose life is a better example of how to go about that than the man I love, whom I’ve shared almost 30 years of my life, my husband, John McCain.

From the beginning of time, no matter how accomplished in other fields, women have always sought a husband with an eye to what kind of father that man would be. Well, I hit a home run with John McCain. I got…

I got the most marvelous husband, and friend, and confidant, a source of strength and inspiration, and also the best father you could ever imagine.

In that most sacred role, he brought to our children his great personal character, his life-long example of honesty, and his steadfast devotion to honor. He has shown the value of self-sacrifice by daily example and, above all, John showers us with unconditional love and support every family dreams of.

I know what his children say of him. And his courageous service to America in war and peace leaves no doubt what our forefathers would make of him.

It’s these virtues of character that led him to this campaign, to this moment. John McCain is a steadfast man who will not break with our heritage, no matter how demanding or dangerous the challenges at home or abroad….

I know John. You can trust his hand at the wheel.

But you know something? What I’ve always thought, it’s a good idea to have a woman’s hand on the wheel, as well.

So how about that Gov. Sarah Palin?

John has picked — John has picked a reform-minded, hockey- momming, basketball-shooting, moose-hunting, salmon-fishing, pistol- packing mother of five for vice president.

And as a fellow hockey mom myself and a Western conservative mother, I couldn’t be prouder that John has shaken things up, as he usually does.

No one can get the job done alone. And that’s why I’m glad John will have Governor Palin by his side. We all to have work together, build consensus, the way John has done all of his life.

His leadership inspires, and empowers, and places ultimate success in all of our hands. Ronald Reagan was fond of saying, “With freedom goes responsibility, a responsibility that can only be met by the individual himself.”…

I think John was a hero in Vietnam.

But you know something? John just thinks it was his turn.

Our son, Jack, will graduate from the United States Naval Academy next year, fourth generation, ready to do his service.

And our son, Jimmy, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, served honorably in Iraq.

Jimmy served honorably in Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of other young men and women just like him are doing for America and freedom everywhere.

The stakes were never more clear to me than the morning I watched my son, Jimmy, strap on his weapons and board a bus headed for harm’s way. I was born and raised in the American West, and I will always see the world through the prism of its values.

My father was a true Western gentleman. He rose from hardscrabble roots to realize the American dream. With only a few borrowed dollars in his pocket, and a strong back and a can-do spirit, he built a great life for his family.

His handshake was his solemn oath. He looked you straight in the eye and always believed the best of you, unless you gave him good cause not to.

Modest and good-natured, he had deep roots in our American soil. He taught me life is not just about you; it’s also about nurturing the next generation, preparing a better world for all of our children and helping them find the right way up.

Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Cindy McCain with her children at the convention. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

We all come to that knowledge in different ways. For me, the great moment of clarity was when I became a mother. Something changed in me. I would never see my obligations the same way again.

It was after that I was walking through the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, surrounded by terrible poverty and the devastation of a cyclone. All around me were the children and the desperate faces of their mothers. The pain was overwhelming, and I felt helpless.

But then I visited an orphanage begun by Mother Teresa, and two very sick little girls captured my heart. There was something I could do. I could take them home, and so I did.

Today, both of those little girls are healthy and happy. And one of them you just met tonight: our beautiful daughter, Bridget.

Much is expected of a country as blessed as America, and our people are at work all over the globe making it a better planet, doing their part. It was my privilege to work with the men and women of the American Voluntary Medical Teams in places like Zaire, Micronesia, Vietnam, watching as they relieved whole towns from disease and rescued countless children from sickness.

The reward for sharing in that work is truly indescribable. To see a child rescued from a life in the shadows by Operation Smile is to witness and share a joy that is life-changing.

And the challenges go on. I just returned from the Republic of Georgia, where HALO Trust, an organizing — an organization specializing in the clearing of the debris of war, are rescuing innocent victims from landmines and missiles.

Sometimes the courage of others leaves me breathless. I only need to speak the word “Rwanda,” and the images it conjures up are beyond description.

In my box tonight is Ernestine, a woman, a friend, a mother like myself, whom I met in Kigali. She suffered unimaginable horrors and was made to watch appalling havoc wreaked by her family.

Yet, as the violence in her country subsides, she doesn’t seek retribution. Instead, she offers love and seeks reconciliation for her people. She says simply, “It’s time to move on for me and my country.”…

Ernestine, your courage is humbling. Your forgiveness is healing. You are my hero.

Forgiveness is not just a personal issue. It’s why John led the efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam, to retrieve the remains of our MIAs, to bring closure to both sides. That’s leadership, national leadership. And it’s leading by example.

The presidential contest will begin in earnest when this convention closes. If Americans want straight talk and plain truth, they should take a good close look at John McCain.

A man tested and true, who never wavered in his devotion to our country, a man who served in Washington without ever becoming a Washington insider, and who always speaks the truth, no matter what the cost, a man of judgment and character, a loyal and loving and true husband, and a magnificent father.

This is a good man, a worthy man. I know. I have loved him with all my heart for almost 30 years, and I humbly recommend him to you tonight for nominee for the next president of the United States.

I am so grateful — I am so grateful to have had the chance to speak with you tonight and for the honor that you are about to grant my husband and, indeed, our entire family.

I promise you, I will work every day to help John strengthen our freedom and to serve this great country with the honor and dignity and the love it deserves from each and every generation it blesses. advertisement

May God bless all of you in America, the citizens of the Gulf Coast, and all the sons and daughters serving this great country around the world tonight.

Thank you.

How do we measure the content of a person’s character? How do we recognize their fitness to serve?

Barack Obama gives a good speech.

But the best sermons aren’t preached, they’re lived.

John McCain’s whole life is a testimony to service, duty, courage and common sense. John McCain has walked the walk, and he has always put our country first!

When he showed guts and courage as a Prisoner of War, John McCain put our country first!

When he stood up to special interests, and fought against earmarks and pork-barrel spending in Congress, John McCain put our country first!

When he saw the need to change strategy in Iraq and boldly called for the surge, John McCain put our country first!

When he responded to our energy crisis with an all-of-the-above energy plan, John McCain put our country first!

And when John McCain is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, we know he will always put our country first!

We’ve seen in this man the very best our country has to offer….

We live in a dangerous world.

With John McCain as President, there will be no misunderstanding about where America stands and what we stand for.

John McCain is tough — but he’s also compassionate. I’ve gotten to know John, and I can tell you he is a Purple Heart recipient with a heart of gold.

He understands the concerns of everyday Americans like you and me.

What I like to call “Sam’s Club Republicans.”

These voters are on a tight budget.

They’re looking for value and accountability at the store. And they’re looking for value and accountability from their government.

John McCain connects with Sam’s Club voters.

He gets it.

He will force government to live within its means, just like families do.

He knows that small businesses are the job growth engine for our country.

He knows the last thing they need is MORE taxes.

John also understands that health care costs are budget busters for too many American families.

He’ll provide help but will put consumers and their doctors in charge, not the federal government.

John also knows it’s getting tougher for us to afford to fill-up at the pump.

His energy plan is classic McCain – bold and aggressive.

In this time, we don’t need a president who can just read a poll or momentarily thrill a crowd.

We don’t need rhetoric or empty promises.

We need a president who has the integrity and courage to make the tough choices so America will be stronger and safer.

I believe the times call out great leaders.

This time, our time, calls out for John McCain.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says Barack Obama doesnt get it.  (CNN)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says Barack Obama "doesn't get it." (CNN)

  • Lindsey Graham speaking at the Republican National ConventionBy every measure, the surge of the troops into Iraq has worked.

    It has worked. Sectarian violence and coalition casualties are at record lows. Fifteen of the 18 political benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi government.

    The Iraqis have a larger, more capable army. Oil production is dramatically increasing. This week, Anbar province, once an Al Qaeda stronghold, was turned over to the Iraqis.

    American combat brigades, who made up the surge, have returned home in victory.

    Now, we know the surge has worked. Our men and women in uniform know it has worked. And I promise you, above all others, Al Qaeda knows it has worked.

    The only people who deny it are Barack Obama and his buddies at MoveOn.org.

    Why won’t they admit it? Because Barack Obama’s campaign is built around us losing in Iraq. Without John McCain’s courageous leadership, there would never have been a surge.

    I know. I was there with John McCain and Joe Lieberman every step of the way.

    In our visits to Iraq — ladies and gentlemen, in our visits to Iraq, we saw the situation deteriorate. The troops we met, the sergeants, the captains, and the colonels had such respect and admiration for Sen. McCain, they felt comfortable giving him something he knows a lot about: straight talk.

    They said, “Sen. McCain, this ain’t working.” John heard their message and put their interests ahead of his own. He came back to Washington and told everyone, including Republicans, “We must change course.”

    For his honesty, some accused John of being disloyal, but John McCain’s loyalties, ladies and gentlemen, have always been to his country and to our men and women in uniform, not a political party.

    Calling for more troops to be sent to Iraq was one of the most unpopular things John McCain could have done. Some said it was political suicide. But you know what? It was the right thing to do… because losing in Iraq would have been a nightmare for America. Al Qaeda would have claimed victory over our nation. Sectarian violence would spread throughout the region, and Iran would fill the vacuum.

    Last summer, we came within two votes — two votes — of a congressionally mandated surrender. One Democrat, one Democrat broke with his party to support the surge. Ladies and gentlemen, thank God for Joe Lieberman.

    It was John McCain’s voice and credibility that stopped the Democratic Congress from losing this war.

    Gen. Petraeus’ plan will be a model for generations to come, and our troops will be heroes for the ages. Those who predicted failure, voted to cut off funding for our troops, and played politics with our national security will be footnotes in history.

    Let there be no — let there be no doubt about it. We are on the road to victory.

    Victory! You can say it at this convention. We are winning!

    And you know what? America is safer because we’re winning in Iraq. A Muslim nation in the heart of the Arab world that rejected Al Qaeda, a nation where the rule of law replaces the rule of gun, a place in the Mideast where a woman can finally have a say about her children’s future.

    While Barack Obama expresses appreciation for our troops’ service, he refuses to acknowledge their success. They have worked too hard, they have sacrificed too much for a patronizing pat on the back.

    Barack Obama went 2½ years between visits to Iraq and never once sat down with Gen. Petraeus. If Barack Obama cannot appreciate that our troops are winning in Iraq, he should not be their commander in chief.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Barack Obama doesn’t care. I’m just saying he doesn’t get it.

    Not once — not once was Barack Obama’s eloquent voice ever raised in support of victory in Iraq. Not once was it used to rally our troops in battle. Instead, he inspired those who supported retreat and would have accepted our defeat.

    We should all be grateful, ladies and gentlemen, that Barack Obama was unable to defeat the surge.

    The surge was a test for Barack Obama. He failed miserably.

    Our troops deserve a commander in chief who acknowledges their success, has walked in their shoes, speaks their language, shares in their suffering, and will lead them to victory in a war we cannot afford to lose.

    That person is my dear friend, John McCain.

    John often says he would rather lose a campaign than lose a war. Here’s the good news: We’re going to win this war and John McCain will be our next president of the United States.

    But wait. But wait. It gets even better, because John McCain has one of the toughest and most talented political reformers in America as his running mate….

    God bless America.

Former PA Governor Tom Ridge addressing the Republican National Convention. (CNN)

Former PA Governor Tom Ridge addressing the Republican National Convention. (CNN)

I speak to you with a grateful heart and enormous pride.

I speak to you as one friend about another.

About a proven leader, a world statesman, an untiring and effective public servant. I speak to you about a warrior who has sometimes stood alone or shown the way in fighting for the most vulnerable of our citizens for the country he so dearly loves and for the founding principles we all so deeply cherish.

I speak to you about a friend who was first pointed out to me in the same way he is proudly pointed out wherever he goes today — “That’s John McCain.”

John and I have been friends for 26 years.

Both of us got elected to Congress in 1982, and both of us are Vietnam veterans.

Some might say that is our common bond. For certainly the Vietnam experience is a uniting one. But I would also say that our friendship blossomed over many a laugh as we told jokes that only we thought were funny….

It was only a little more than a year ago, in August of 2007, that I drove to John’s office to offer an encouraging word.

You all remember that time.

It was really rough going for the campaign. Some were ready to count John out.

Some questioned his resolve.

Some wondered and waited for the white flag of surrender.

Having rehearsed my pep talk, I walked into John’s office, put my arm around him and asked, “Hey, how are you doing?”

He paused for a moment.

From his shoulders came a quick shrug.

Then he looked at me and said, “Tom, you and I both know I’ve been through worse.”

We sat down, he spread some papers across a table and said, “NOW, let me tell you how I think we can win.”

He talked strategy, a way forward, next steps.

And later I would leave my friend’s office thinking what I share with you tonight: “That’s John McCain.”

Where some people see adversity, John McCain accepts a challenge.

Where some people see a crisis, John McCain creates an opportunity.

Where some people see defeat, John McCain pursues victory.

John knows the purpose of elections is not merely to win.

You run to win, but you win to govern.

So who of our two candidates is the most qualified to govern the freest, strongest, most blessed nation on earth?

Who but John McCain understands that America’s security and prosperity will — now and forevermore — be tied to the security and prosperity of the rest of the world?

Who but John McCain has the experience, the sheer will, the steady hand and the informed judgment to advance our economic and political interests during these perilous 21st century times? And who but John McCain — and only John McCain — can negotiate from a position of strength and proven ability because he’s already earned the trust, respect and admiration of our friends and allies around the world? And I suspect he has the attention of those who would oppose us.

Now more than ever we need a leader who fits the times — not a candidate who merely thinks it’s his time to lead.

For the consideration before us is not about who can take a 3 a.m. call.

It’s about who has answered the call throughout his life.

It’s not about building a record.

It’s about having one.

It’s not about talking pretty.

It’s about talking straight.

The challenge of our times is not simply to change.

The challenge of our time is to leave nothing to chance….

Today, we have a leader — some people call him a maverick — who, for his country, has put his life on the line.

Who, for his country, leads with his conscience.

Who, for his country, has worked to preserve, honor and protect the great land of the free.

That’s John McCain.

John dares to think differently, to act boldly and to put country before self.

He dares to believe that we are all called to serve as long as we call ourselves free.

He dares to embrace the founding principle that our responsibility to one another extends from a national crisis to an individual need — from nation to nation, community to community — in this, the greatest community ever formed.

So may we rise to the occasion, to the moment, to the vision of our Founding Fathers.

May we summon ourselves to our best efforts and call this maverick forward.

Let us elect a man who has firmly and unequivocally laid out his vision of where this country can go.

Who offers a better way, a better day and a greater say for all who call this great country home.

That’s John McCain.

Let us elect a public servant who refuses to think in terms of red versus blue, but only in terms of red, white and blue.

That’s John McCain.

An artful leader, a diplomat, a tenacious legislator.

Say it with me!

That’s John McCain!

Someone who speaks truth to power, truth to the American people, and rises above politics to get things done.

That’s John McCain.

A consensus builder, a reformer, the patriot who always puts his country first.

That’s John McCain!

A Reagan conservative, an optimist.

America’s go-to guy.

That’s John McCain!

That’s John McCain.

That’s John McCain.

I am so very proud to say, ‘That is my friend, John McCain.’

The next president of the United States.

The next commander in chief.

Ready to lead.

Ready to serve.

Ready to deliver.

God bless you, John.

God bless you all.

And may God continue to bless our brave troops who serve our country so well.

Thank you.

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday in St. Paul. (NYT)

Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday in St. Paul. (NYT)

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Obama Appears on Fox on McCain’s Night – NYT, 9-4-08
  • Obama Brushes Back Convention Attacks when speaking to media at the Voith Siemens Hydro Power Plant in York, Penn., September 4, 2008:“I understand they don’t have much of an agenda to run on. But I think the American people deserve better than to get the same old vitriol and slash-and-burn politics that we’ve been seeing over the last couple of days. We are going to tell the American people exactly what I and Joe Biden and an Obama administration intend to do to make their lives better. And I hope at some point the Republicans decide to engage in that debate….

    They’re talking about the three years of work that I did right out of college, as if I’m making the leap from two or three years out of college into the presidency. I would argue that doing work in the community, to try to create jobs, to bring people together, to rejuvenate communities that have fallen on hard times, to set up job training programs in areas that have been hard hit when the steel plants closed, that that’s relevant only in understanding where I’m coming from. Who I believe in. Who I’m fighting for. And why I’m in this race. And the question I have for them is, why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for? What are they advocating for? They think the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives, is somehow not relevant to the presidency? Maybe that’s the problem….

    If they want to work the refs they are free to do so. And I think the public can make their judgments about this. The notion that any questions about her work in Alaska is somehow not relevant to her potentially being vice president of the United States, doesn’t make too much sense to me. I think she’s got a compelling story. But I assume she wants to be treated the same way that guys want to be treated, which means that their records are under scrutiny. I’ve been through this for nineteen months. She’s been through it what, four days so far?…

    “John McCain’s running for president. I’m running against John McCain….That speech that she delivered was on behalf of John McCain. The central question in this campaign is, who’s got a better plan, a better agenda, to move this country forward and fundamentally change it from the economic and foreign policy failures that we’ve seen over the last eight year? I believe that the American people need change, they want change, and I’m in the best position to bring it….

    What did you guys expect? I anticipated this last Thursday in my acceptance speech. This is what they do. They don’t have an agenda to run on. They haven’t offered a single concrete idea so far in two nights. They spent the entire two nights attacking me and extolling John McCain’s biography, which is fine — they can use their convention time any way they want. But you can’t expect that I’d be surprised by attacks from Republicans. And by the way, I’ve been called worse on the basketball court.”

  • Biden vows to challenge PalinUSA Today, 9-4-08
  • Palin criticizes Obama again in solo appearance with Republican Governors: “We don’t have a ‘present’ button as governor – we are expected to lead, we are expected to take action and not just vote ‘present. So there’s a big difference, of course, between the executive and legislative branches and our experience…. a big job cut out in front of me running for vice president. I intend to give this campaign all that I have to give. And I look forward to these 60-plus days on the trail. My family looks forward to this, we’re up for it, we’re excited about it.”
  • Sarah Palin telling reporters she is looking forward to McCain’s acceptance speech: “We are all very excited about tonight. The people of this country will once again see tonight the conviction and the character that make him a great man, an honorable man and will make him a great president.”
Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

The Audience at the Republican National Convention (Photo: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

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