Republican National Convention Day 2: September 2, 2008


Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on Tuesday in St. Paul. (NYT)

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on Tuesday in St. Paul. (NYT)

Day 2 ScheduleTUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2008: Service

    The 2008 Republican National Convention today announced the program of events for Tuesday, Sept. 2. The program will feature speeches by U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson. Their remarks will reflect the convention’s overall theme, “Country First,” and the theme for Tuesday’s events, which is “service.”

    “We are excited to announce Tuesday’s featured speakers, who will share John McCain’s remarkable record of leadership and service with millions of Americans tonight. We are looking forward to showcasing John McCain’s life-long record of putting his country first,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan.

    “From his days as a POW who refused early release to his 20-year career in the U.S. Senate, John McCain has always put country first. Tonight’s program will reflect his unmatched commitment to service and his vision for increasing Americans’ participation in service and volunteer activities,” said Rick Davis, McCain 2008 campaign manager.

    Among the other speakers announced today are President George W. Bush (via satellite), First Lady Laura Bush, U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio), U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.).
    GOP Convention 2008


  • September 2, 2008: Bush tells convention McCain is ready to lead, support of war shows his courage … McCain says Palin was thoroughly checked out before she was selected … With GOP struggling, Obama content to keep it local and low-key … Outside GOP convention, heavy police presence meets thousands protesting poverty, homelessness … McCain and Obama camps air new ads, alter playing field. – AP, 9-2-08
    Thompson, Lieberman to speak Tuesday night as GOP gets convention back on track … McCain’s veep vetter says Palin voluntarily disclosed teen’s pregnancy, husband’s past DUI … AP photographer, Democracy Now! TV and radio host arrested while covering anti-war protest … McCain has opposed spending on teen pregnancy prevention programs, sex education. – AP, 9-2-08

Stats & In the News…

  • 8 Years Later, Lieberman Extols McCain – NYT, 9-2-08
  • McCain Cancels Larry King Interview – NYT, 9-2-08
  • Exclusive photos show Sarah Palin has convinced John McCain – NY Daily News, 9-2-08
  • Lieberman gets convention spotlight, Bush a cameo – AP, 9-2-08
  • Bush praises McCain, Republicans defend Palin – AP, 9-2-08
  • Sarah Palin: Shooting Star? – WaPo, 9-2-08
  • Analysis: Palin choice scrambles left-right roles – AP, 9-2-08

Historians’ Comments

  • Historians Offer Insight on RNC’s Day Two: historians Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph examine the strengths of the night’s speeches and the rally for the GOP party in St. Paul. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Well, it’s interesting. I think Judy’s right. This crowd goes out tonight feeling probably a lot better than they did even coming in this evening. I was struck by the extent to which this night was about John McCain’s personal story. And as we all know, it is a very powerful story. But it’s interesting. Here we are, two months before the campaign, and you have — before the election, and you have the feeling this is still a candidacy driven very much by biography. And I suspect what a lot of people are eager to hear over the next two nights is a lot more about what a McCain presidency would actually mean, whether it’s the economy, or health care, or a host of other issues. One other thing I would just add as an asterisk, knowing some Republicans and having been around Republicans, I don’t think you can overestimate the emotional surge in this hall that arises from the sense as a result of the Sarah Palin feeding frenzy that the “media,” quote, unquote, is out to get them. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: Certainly. I think that tonight, it was an extraordinary night. I think Joe Lieberman’s speech quoting George Washington, who was against parties, at least partisanship, and calling for a bipartisan participation in this next election, Democrats, independents to vote for McCain, really building on what Richard said, based on biography rather than specific public policy proposals. And I think the controversy over the Palin choice is energizing their base. And they really feel they’re trying to rally around Palin in a way that — when we think of 1972, George McGovern didn’t, and when we think of 1988, George Bush, in fact, did. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Maybe not a lot. And as a matter of fact, you know, you were talking a moment ago, Jim, about going after the media, which never hurts to do for a speaker at any convention, maybe particularly a Republican one. And, in 1964, probably the most powerful applause line at that convention, the Republicans in San Francisco, aside from the one given by — the speech given by Barry Goldwater, Dwight Eisenhower, of all people, who people thought of as rather mild-mannered, said, “Let us particularly scorn the sensation-seeking columnists because, my friends, I can assure you these are people who couldn’t care less about the good of our party.” And there was almost an animal roar. One lady started screaming, “Down with Walter Lippman!” It really brought down the house. The other thing you were saying, Jim, about, you know, reaching across the aisle. You know, Joe Lieberman’s speech tonight, I think it probably can be fairly said, if he had been nominated for vice president this week, we probably would have heard maybe three-quarters of the words that we heard tonight. That was probably large chunks of an acceptance speech that he never got to give. The reason he never got to give it, we are told, is that John McCain wanted to choose him, but his party said you can’t reach across the aisle, you can’t nominate a Democrat who has very differing views from many of us and from John McCain. And so there was a great irony that here he is saying, “Let’s all reach across the aisle,” to a group that essentially prevented John McCain from choosing a Democrat, Lieberman, as vice president. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
  • H.W. Brands on “McCain Walks Fine Line With Bush Legacy”: Dealing with the legacy of the previous president “is a perennial problem for candidates of the same party as the incumbent, especially when the incumbent has baggage.” said H.W. Brands, author of Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    A professor of history at the University of Texas, Brands — who was not in Minnesota — said that presidential candidate Al Gore tried to embrace Bill Clinton’s prosperity but not Clinton’s personal behavior. George H. W. Bush endorsed Reaganism, but distanced himself from the Iran-Contra affair. When Hubert Humphrey ran for president in 1968, he endorsed Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society but wavered on the Vietnam war. Calvin Coolidge echoed Warren G. Harding on the economy in 1924 but not on the Teapot Dome scandal. And Martin Van Buren wanted to be Andrew Jackson, without some of Jackson’s sharp edges.

    “Every candidate promises to be his own man,” Brands said, “but wants to be associated with such success as his predecessor achieved. Some strike the balance, others don’t.” – NPR, 9-2-08

  • Ted Frantz on “Assessing Gustav damage to RNC”: “You can make the argument that in some ways Gustav helped John McCain, given what he was trying to run on and stress. Leadership and experience,” said Ted Frantz.
    University of Indianapolis history professor Ted Frantz said even though the Republican Party didn’t get the media coverage it had wanted, Gustav didn’t keep John McCain out of the news. Rather it allowed the Senator an opportunity to react to a potential disaster on the national stage. “Hey this is what I would do as commander in chief, putting Americans first and party loyalty second,” said Frantz.
    But Frantz notes, of the two parties, the Democrats were the ones who needed more convention time. Not only did the party want to take time to reintroduce Senator Barack Obama to the nation, but party leaders had to deal with far more drama. In this case, giving the Clintons prime time coverage so they could show their support for Barack Obama and encourage their supporters to do the same.
    With John McCain a well known entity, viewers may not be as interested in the Republican National Convention.
    “I think generally they would tune in for McCain’s speech and to see Sarah Palin speak for the longest time, after that, probably most Americans wouldn’t have tuned in that heavily anyway,” said Frantz. – WISH-TV 8, 9-2-08
  • Melissa Harris-Lacewell on “Cindy and Michelle Defy First Lady Stereotypes Political Experts Say Either Woman Could Create Stronger White House Role”:

    “Americans are going to get a different first lady,” said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, and who is friends with Michelle Obama. “Whoever winds up there, it’s going to be a different approach.”…
    As a working mother, Obama’s central theme could be balancing home and work. “How do contemporary women fulfill their own series while also fulfilling their desire for family?” asked Harris-Lacewell. “How do they support their husbands without getting lost in their identities?” Harris-Lacewell also suggested that Michelle Obama may champion issues involving her children as they grow, such as gender equality and education.

    “Eight years ago, she had incredible dignity and was a fierce advocate of her own adopted daughter,” Harris-Lacewell said. “She is a woman of more substance than people imagine.” – ABC News, 9-2-08

  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony on “Cindy and Michelle Defy First Lady Stereotypes Political Experts Say Either Woman Could Create Stronger White House Role”: “The campaigns don’t necessarily want the wives to appear overly substantive,” said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian for the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio. “The campaign of 1992 stands out as a stark reminder of how a first lady can be demonized if there is the slightest suggestion she might use her intelligence and experience and offer advice to her husband.”…
    “Michelle gave [Barack Obama] a sense of grounding and purpose in Chicago,” said Anthony. “She gave him a sense of home.” – ABC News, 9-2-08
  • Catherine Algore on “Cindy and Michelle Defy First Lady Stereotypes Political Experts Say Either Woman Could Create Stronger White House Role”: “The twist is that Cindy McCain has more of an opportunity to make a more radical difference,” said Catherine Algore, visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College and author of “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation.” “It’s the paradox of her being a Republican woman, with traditional appearance and presence of self. She can actually do more than someone looked at as a radical, liberal feminist and black woman,” Algore told “In some ways Michelle Obama is constrained by our own prejudices and expectations, whereas Cindy McCain can take that conservative, former beauty queen wife and mother and philanthropist and run with it,” she said. – ABC News, 9-2-08
  • Edward Berkowitz on “Cindy and Michelle Defy First Lady Stereotypes Political Experts Say Either Woman Could Create Stronger White House Role”: History demonstrates that the role of first lady is complex, according to Edward Berkowitz, professor of history and public policy at George Washington University. “There are contradictions built in to the family and political roles,” he told “How to reconcile between being active and not getting involved, giving the president the proper space, the proper environment for giving advice, but not definitive advice. The tensions are very hard to navigate.”…
    “Michelle Obama is a different animal than any other first lady ever,” said Berkowitz. “She is this sort of black, upwardly mobile, upper-class type. She is not that aristocratic, but very often the high-achieving black world has its own rules and decorum.”…
    “She’s like Nancy Reagan, in the sense that she and Ronnie had been divorced,” Berkowitz said. “Reagan made it a nonissue. She’s from that world.” And her wealth is “relatively new money,” Berkowitz said. “Having a beer distributorship, it’s not unlike the Kennedy father. It’s not like being a banker, not that respectability. It’s more working class.” – ABC News, 9-2-08
  • Joseph Crespino on “Obama and the New South”: She is a very compelling personality and has already injected a lot of enthusiasm and interest into McCain’s campaign. But Palin is a huge wild card. I thought that the one question that the Dems had not fully answered by the end of their convention was the experience issue, but obviously the McCain camp thought differently because they’ve taken that off the table. It’s hard to know what to make of the news about Palin’s daughter. Nobody really wants to touch it because it’s sad to have the private lives of family members injected into national politics, but how can you hear that new — not to mention the troopergate story — and not wonder who actually vetted this candidate….
    I don’t think any Republicans are remiss about George Bush being unable to speak in prime time Monday night — or the fact that Dick Cheney will not be at the convention. It looks now like Gustav will more or less blow through New Orleans with relatively little impact, and if the Republicans get three full days in, then I think they will be thrilled. – Emory Wheel, 9-1-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph: Experts Mull Historical Context of GOP’s Convention Postponement: The Republican Committee decided to delay convention events on Monday due to Hurricane Gustav — a first in party convention history. Historians discuss the decision and its political significance in the context of past conventions. – PBS Newshour, 9-1-08 Download
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University:: In a word, no. I thought someone this week would be brief, you know. No, this is unprecedented. But, you know, Andy had a point when he was talking earlier. There are going to be some people who won’t say it in front of a camera, but who privately see this as not entirely a cause for despondency, because the fewer people out there who see the president and the vice president this evening, the better it may be for the people in here….

    Well, you know, first of all, to be fair, there’s a poll today that says 71 percent of these delegates approve of President Bush’s performance. That’s just that they’re not necessarily representative of the electorate at large. I’ll give an example. You can’t get much more radioactive than Richard Nixon following his resignation from office in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Two years later, he continued to cast a long shadow over the Ford White House and the Ford campaign against Jimmy Carter. There was a press conference in October of ’76. A reporter stood up and said, “Mr. President,” to Gerald Ford, “twice in this press conference you’ve referred to ‘your predecessor.’ Once you’ve referred to ‘Lyndon Johnson’s successor.’ Are you deliberately trying to avoid saying Richard Nixon’s name?” Ford said, “Yes.” That said it all. Richard Nixon never did, in fact, appear at another Republican convention. And it made news four years ago when his name was actually uttered from the podium by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger….

    Well, I think it warms its fire — its hands by the fire ignited by Ronald Reagan. I mean, this is still very much Ronald Reagan’s party. It’s easier to imagine a post-Bush Republican Party than it is a post-Reagan Republican Party. And yet, if you look at the Tories in England, for example, granted, Mrs. Thatcher left office under different circumstances, but it took a long time for that party to find a new identity, clinging, presumably, to the values of Thatcherism, whatever that means, but adapting them to a different political and cultural climate. And that is one of the real challenges. And it’s interesting, because part of the Reagan coalition, the kind of populist, particularly the religious right, the right-to-life movement, they are ecstatic with the choice of Sarah Palin, because they see her as an unconventional conservative, a populist, anti-establishment conservative, very much, perhaps, the next generation of Reaganism. – PBS Newshour, 9-1-08 Download

  • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: In August of 2000, President Bill Clinton proved to be an albatross on the candidate Vice President Al Gore. Clinton had record approval ratings and was really one of only two men in the postwar era to be elected to and serve two terms as president, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. But the Lewinsky scandal made Clinton personally toxic. He appeared once at the convention August 14th. And Al Gore only mentioned him one time in his speech. So for the rest of the campaign, what Al Gore attempted to do was actually embrace Clinton’s legacy, while really distancing himself from the president as a personal figure. And it proved to be a really tough act to follow, and eventually it proved to be his undoing….

    If the post-Lyndon Johnson Democratic Party has been wrestling with the perception that it’s a party of special interests, the post-Reagan Republican Party wrestles with the perception that it’s really the party of business or corporate interest. And what’s very interesting about that is that, over the last quarter of a century, what the Republican Party has attempted to do is really think of itself as a party of compassion, a party of an ownership society, and really a party of racial inclusiveness, to the extent that the perception of the party is that it’s a party that doesn’t really care about poor people, it’s not a party that cares about minorities, and, in fact, is a party that’s hostile to minorities. Ronald Reagan himself had a little something to do with that, when we think about public policy, and the perceptions of his reputation of affirmative action and also his initial resistance to sign the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday into law. By 1988, when his vice president, George Bush, is running, we’ve got the infamous Willie Horton ad, which really solidified for many a perception, at least, that the Republican Party really had a long way to go towards racial inclusiveness. By 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, that perception almost became political reality and a huge albatross. So when we look at this convention, really postponing or at least truncating its schedule this past Monday, it goes a long way towards combating that perception that the Republican Party doesn’t care about racial minorities. – PBS Newshour, 9-1-08 Download

  • Phil VanderMeer on “Can John McCain break Mo’s Curse?”: “You can certainly say (McCain) is a maverick who spans Barry and Mo in interesting ways,” said Phil VanderMeer, associate professor of history at Arizona State University. “He puts together issues that don’t match traditional liberal and conservative (views). That’s a Western way. He has an ability to appeal to people outside pre-packaged ideologies.”… “All of them had an attitude toward the environment that I would consider Western,” VanderMeer said. The West, he said, “mattered to them differently.” – The Arizona Republic, 9-1-08
  • Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph: Convention Decision Highlights GOP’s Post-Katrina Sensitivity “By cancelling most of tomorrow’s program, this party sends a pretty powerful signal that in effect we have learned our lesson from three years ago … This is, ironically enough, the re-launch of compassionate conservatism, Richard Norton Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 8-31-08

The Speeches….

Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman at the convention. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

We meet tonight in the wake of a terrible storm that has hit the Gulf Coast but that hurts all of us, because we are all members of our larger American family.

At times like this, we set aside all that divides us, and we come together to help our fellow citizens in need.

What matters is certainly not whether we are Democrats or Republicans, but that we are all Americans.

The truth is, it shouldn’t take a hurricane to bring us together like this….

Instead they see Democrats and Republicans fighting each other, rather than fighting for the American people.

Our founding fathers foresaw the danger of this kind of senseless partisanship. George Washington himself — in his Farewell Address to our country — warned that the “spirit of party” is “the worst enemy” of our democracy and “enfeebles” our government’s ability to do its job.

George Washington was absolutely right. The sad truth is — today we are living through his worst nightmare, in the capital city that bears his name.

And that brings me directly to why I am here tonight. What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?

The answer is simple.

I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.

I’m here tonight because John McCain is the best choice to bring our country together and lead our country forward.

I’m here because John McCain’s whole life testifies to a great truth: being a Democrat or a Republican is important.

But it is not more important than being an American.

Both presidential candidates this year talk about changing the culture of Washington, about breaking through the partisan gridlock and special interests that are poisoning our politics.

But only one of them has actually done it.

Only one leader has shown the courage and the capability to rise above the smallness of our politics to get big things done for our country and our people.

And that leader is John McCain!

John understands that it shouldn’t take a natural disaster like Hurricane Gustav to get us to take off our partisan blinders and work together to get things done.

It shouldn’t take a natural disaster to teach us that the American people don’t care much if you have an “R” or a “D” after your name.

What they care about is, are we solving the problems they are up against every day?

What you can expect from John McCain as President is precisely what he has done this week: which is to put country first. That is the code by which he has lived his entire life, and that is the code he will carry with him into the White House.

I have personally seen John, over and over again, bring people together from both parties to tackle our toughest problems we face –to reform our campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws, to create the 9/11 Commission and pass its critical national security reforms, and to end the partisan paralysis over judicial confirmations.

My Democratic friends know all about John’s record of independence and accomplishment.

Maybe that’s why some of them are spending so much time and so much money trying to convince voters that John McCain is someone else.

I’m here, as a Democrat myself, to tell you: Don’t be fooled.

God only made one John McCain, and he is his own man.

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have taken on corrupt Republican lobbyists, or big corporations that were cheating the American people, or powerful colleagues in Congress who were wasting taxpayer money.

But he did!

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or to do something about global warming.

But he did!

As a matter of fact, if John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat.

And I’m not.

Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.

In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party.

Contrast that to John McCain’s record, or the record of the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, who stood up to some of those same Democratic interest groups and worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements, and a balanced budget.

Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.

That’s why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.

The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can’t build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks.

And together, you can count on John McCain and Sarah Palin to fight for America and to fight for you! And that’s what our country needs most right now.

What we need most is not more party unity in America but more national unity!…

When others were silent, John McCain had the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground,

John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor!…

But you can always count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right regardless of politics.

As President, you can count on John McCain to be a restless reformer, who will clean up Washington and get our government working again for you!

So tonight, I ask you whether you are an Independent, a Reagan Democrat or a Clinton Democrat, or just a Democrat: This year, when you vote for President, vote for the person you believe is best for the country, not for the party you happen to belong to.

Vote for the leader who, since the age of 17, when he raised his hand and took an oath to defend and protect our Constitution, has always put our country first.

So, let’s come together to make a great American patriot our next great President!

…We know that we have challenges — always have, always will.

But we also know that we live in the freest, strongest, most generous and prosperous nation in the history of the world and we are thankful.

Speaking of the vice presidential nominee, what a breath of fresh air Gov. Sarah Palin is.

She is from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family.

Some Washington pundits and media big shots are in a frenzy over the selection of a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit. Well, give me a tough Alaskan governor who has taken on the political establishment in the largest state in the union — and won — over the beltway business-as-usual crowd any day of the week.

Fred Thompson Speaking to Republican National Convention, Tuesday night. (CNN)

Fred Thompson Speaking to Republican National Convention, Tuesday night. (CNN)

Let’s be clear … the selection of Gov. Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic. She is a courageous, successful, reformer, who is not afraid to take on the establishment.

Sound like anyone else we know?

She has run a municipality and she has run a state.

And I can say without fear of contradiction that she is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose … with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.

She and John McCain are not going to care how much the alligators get irritated when they get to Washington, they’re going to drain that swamp.

But tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the remarkable story of John McCain.

It’s a story about character.

John McCain’s character has been tested like no other presidential candidate in the history of this nation.

He comes from a military family whose service to our country goes back to the Revolutionary War.

The tradition continues…..

…Also here tonight is John’s 96-year-old mother, Roberta. All I’ve got to say is that if Roberta McCain had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered.

Now, John’s father was a bit of a rebel, too.

In his first two semesters at the Naval Academy, he managed to earn 333 demerits.

Unfortunately, John later saw that as a record to be beaten.

A rebellious mother and a rebellious father – I guess you can see where this is going.

In high school and the Naval Academy, he earned a reputation as a troublemaker.

But as John points out, he wasn’t just a troublemaker. He was the leader of the troublemakers.

Although loaded with demerits like his father, John was principled even in rebellion.

He never violated the honor code.

However, in flight school in Pensacola, he did drive a Corvette and date a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.

And the reason I’m telling you these things, is that, apparently, this mixture of rebellion and honor helped John McCain survive the next chapter of his life:

John McCain was preparing to take off from the USS Forrestal for his sixth mission over Vietnam, when a missile from another plane accidentally fired and hit his plane.

The flight deck burst into a fireball of jet fuel.

John’s flight suit caught fire.

He was hit by shrapnel.

It was a scene of horrible human devastation.

Men sacrificed their lives to save others that day. One kid, who John couldn’t identify because he was burned beyond recognition, called out to John to ask if a certain pilot was OK.

John replied that, yes, he was.

The young sailor said, “Thank God”… and then he died.

These are the kind of men John McCain served with.

These are the men and women John McCain knows and understands and loves….

…Putting his “Country First.”

Three months later John McCain was a Prisoner of War.

On October 26, 1967, on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, a surface-to-air missile slammed into John’s A-4 Skyhawk jet, blowing it out of the sky.

When John ejected, part of the plane hit him — breaking his right knee, his left arm, his right arm in three places.

An angry mob got to him.

A rifle butt broke his shoulder.

A bayonet pierced his ankle and his groin.

They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return.

John McCain said “No”….

We hear a lot of talk about hope.

John McCain knows about hope. That’s all he had to survive on. For propaganda purposes, his captors offered to let him go home.

John McCain refused.

He refused to leave ahead of men who’d been there longer.

He refused to abandon his conscience and his honor, even for his freedom.

He refused, even though his captors warned him, “It will be very bad for you.”

They were right.

It was.

The guards cracked ribs, broke teeth off at the gums. They cinched a rope around his arms and painfully drew his shoulders back.

Over four days, every two to three hours, the beatings resumed. During one especially fierce beating, he fell, again breaking his arm….

Whenever John was returned to his cell — walking if he could, dragged if he couldn’t — as he passed his fellow POWs, he would call out to them.

He’d smile … and give them a thumbs-up.

For five-and-a-half years this went on.

John McCain’s bones may have been broken but his spirit never was.

Now, being a POW certainly doesn’t qualify anyone to be president.

But it does reveal character.

This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders.







It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, “Who is this man?” and “Can we trust this man with the presidency?”….

…This man, John McCain is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular.

At a point when the war in Iraq was going badly and the public lost confidence, John stood up and called for more troops.

And now we are winning.

Ronald Reagan was John McCain’s hero.

And President Reagan admired John tremendously.

But when the president proposed putting U.S. troops in Beirut, John McCain, a freshman Congressman, stood up and cast a vote against his hero because he thought the deployment was a mistake.

My friends … that is character you can believe in….

…The Senate has always had more than its share of smooth talkers.

And big talkers.

It still has.

But while others were talking reform, John McCain led the effort to make reform happen — always pressing, always moving for what he believed was right and necessary to restore the people’s faith in their government.

Confronting when necessary, reaching across the aisle when possible, John personified why we came to Washington in the first place.

It didn’t always set too well with some of his colleagues.

Some of those fights were losing efforts.

Some were not.

But a man who never quits is never defeated.

Because John McCain stood up our country is better off.

The respect he is given around the world is not because of a teleprompter speech designed to appeal to American critics abroad, but because of decades of clearly demonstrated character and statesmanship….

Spending at home that threatens to bankrupt future generations. For decades an expanding government … increasingly wasteful and too often incompetent.

To deal with these challenges the Democrats present a history making nominee for president.

History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president. Apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history making, Democrat controlled Congress. History making because it’s the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation’s history.

Together, they would take on these urgent challenges with protectionism, higher taxes and an even bigger bureaucracy.

And a Supreme Court that could be lost to liberalism for a generation.

This is not reform.

And it’s certainly not change.

It is basically the same old stuff they’ve been peddling for years. America needs a president who understands the nature of the world we live in.

A president who feels no need to apologize for the United States of America.

We need a president who understands that you don’t make citizens prosperous by making Washington richer, and you don’t lift an economic downturn by imposing one of the largest tax increases in American history.

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they’re just going to tax “businesses”! So unless you buy something from a “business”, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small “business”, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.

They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the “other” side of the bucket! That’s their idea of tax reform.

My friends, we need a leader who stands on principle.

We need a president, and vice president, who will take the federal bureaucracy by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking.

And we need a president who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.

The man who will be that president is John McCain.

In the days ahead at this convention, you will hear much more about what John will do as president — what he will do on the economy, on energy, on health care, the environment… It is not my role tonight to explain that vision.

My role is to help remind you of the man behind the vision. Because tonight our country is calling to all of us to step up, stand up, and put “Country First” with John McCain.

Tonight we are being called upon to do what is right for our country.

Tonight we are being called upon to stand up for a strong military, a mature foreign policy, a free and growing economy and for the values that bind us together and keep our nation free.

Tonight, we are being called upon to step up and stand up with John just as he has stood up for our country.

Our country is calling.

John McCain cannot raise his arms above his shoulders.

He cannot salute the flag of the country for which he sacrificed so much. Tonight, as we begin this convention week, yes, we stand with him.

And we salute him.

We salute his character and his courage.

His spirit of independence, and his drive for reform.

His vision to bring security and peace in our time, and continued prosperity for America and all her citizens.

For our own good and our children’s, let us celebrate that vision, that belief, that faith so we can keep America the greatest country the world has ever seen.

God bless John McCain and God bless America.

…As you gather tonight in St. Paul, I want to share some thoughts about our nominee — a great American, and the next President of the United States, John McCain.

Before I do so, I want to say hello to two people in the hall with you tonight. I could have no finer examples of character, decency, and integrity than my mom and dad. And I love you a lot.

I know what it takes to be President. In these past eight years, I’ve sat at the Resolute desk and reviewed the daily intelligence briefings, the threat assessments, and reports from our commanders on the front lines. I’ve stood in the ruins of buildings knocked down by killers, and promised the survivors I would never let them down. I know the hard choices that fall solely to a President. John McCain’s life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation.

Damon Winter/The New York Times)

President George W. Bush addressed the convention over a video link from the White House. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

From the day of his commissioning, John McCain was a respected naval officer who made decisions on which the lives of others depended. As an elected public servant, he earned the respect of colleagues in both parties as a man to follow when there’s a tough call to make.

John McCain’s life is a story of service above self. Forty years ago in an enemy prison camp, Lieutenant Commander McCain was offered release ahead of others who had been held longer. His wounds were so severe that anyone would have understood if he’d accepted. John refused. For that selfless decision, he suffered nearly five more years of beatings and isolation. When he was released, his arms had been broken — but not his honor.

Fellow citizens: If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.

As the father of seven sons and daughters, John has the heart of a protector. He and his wonderful wife, Cindy, are adoptive parents. John is a leader who knows that human life is fragile, that human life is precious, that human life must be defended.

We’ve seen John McCain’s commitment to principle in our Nation’s Capital. John is a steadfast opponent of wasteful spending. As President, he will stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress, and make the tax relief permanent. He will invest in the energy technologies of tomorrow — and lift the ban on drilling for America’s offshore oil today.

John is an independent man who thinks for himself. He’s not afraid to tell you when he disagrees. Believe me, I know. No matter what the issue, this man is honest and speaks straight from the heart.

Last year, John McCain’s independence and character helped change history. The Democrats had taken control of Congress and were threatening to cut off funds for our troops. In the face of calls for retreat, I ordered a surge of forces into Iraq. Many in Congress said it had no chance of working. Yet one Senator above all had faith in our troops and the importance of their mission — and that was John McCain. Some told him that his early and consistent call for more troops would put his presidential campaign at risk. He told them he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. That is the kind of courage and vision we need in our next Commander- in-Chief.

My fellow citizens, we live in a dangerous world. And we need a President who understands the lessons of September the 11th, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain.

When he takes office next January, John will have an outstanding leader at his side. America will have a strong and principled Vice President in the Governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

In the time the Oval Office has been in my trust, I’ve kept near my desk reminders of America’s character — including a painting of a West Texas mountain lit by the morning sun. It reminds me that Americans have always lived on the sunrise side of the mountain. We’re a nation that looks to the new day with confidence and optimism. And I’m optimistic about our future, because I believe in the goodness and wisdom of the American people. I’m optimistic because I have faith in freedom’s power to lift up all of God’s children, and lead this world to a future of peace.

And I’m optimistic about something else: When the debates have ended, and all the ads have run, and it is time to vote, Americans will look closely at the judgment, the experience, and the policies of the candidates — and they will cast their ballots for the McCain-Palin ticket.

While I am not with you in the Twin Cities on this wonderful night for our party, with Laura Bush speaking, you have clearly traded up. I am so proud the American people have come to know her gracious presence, her determined spirit, and her loving heart. Laura has been a fantastic First Lady.

Thank you, Laura — and thanks to all of you in the hall tonight. God bless you, and God bless America.

On the Campaign Trail….

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