Page last updated at 01:46 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 02:46 UK
McCain vows to fight to change US

John McCain

By Jude Sheerin

2224 So begins a two-month general election battle that will be hotly fought. With national polls so far showing McCain and Obama in a virtual deadheat, it looks like this race, not for the first time, will go down to the wire. We'll be covering the first debate live on 26 September, so do join us then.

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lonestarroy, at the convention, tweets: The balloons are officially piled over my head.

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Bro Winky, Toronto, Canada From what I heard, his speech seemed to be a mish-mash of fear mongering, blind patriotism, POW camp stories, how he's going to "fix" Washington (even though it was his party that broke it in the first place), and drill, drill, drill! He also sprinkled in the G word (God) for good measure...

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Jim Geraghty, The Campaign Spot: It's McCain, because the speech is stuffed to the gills with anecdotes and tales of what makes America great - moments of grit, and humor, and appreciation. And it was a speech that did indeed lay out his policy vision - particularly on school choice, on energy independence, worker retraining, taxes, and calling out with a stirring call to national service, that generated a roar that actually equaled the climax of Sarah Palin's address.

2219 McCain has sought to recast the GOP in his own maverick image, reaching out to a newly energised base, while at the same time pitching to the undecided floating voter.

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Michael Crowley, The New Republic: McCain's storied speechwriter Mark Salter was seated in the front row tonight. I didn't notice him until the closing minute or two of the speech, but as McCain reached his text's conclusion, Salter leapt up and assumed the role of an orchestra conductor leading a wild crescendo. In the final moments Salter was posessed, pounding a fist rhythmically into his palm, It was, frankly, lot more stirring than watching McCain himself.

2216 Some pundits are saying the audience in the Xcel Center has lacked the same pitch of excitement (Republicans might well say personality cult frenzy) for Obama last week in Denver.

2213 McCain appeared to define himself more in contrast with Obama, rather than with the last eight years of Bush.

2211 There's a hailstorm of balloons as McCain descends to press the flesh in the crowd. He needed to persuade voters that America's best years are not behind it, and that at 72, his best years are not behind him. The audience in the Xcel Center seems in no doubt he is of commander-in-chief timber.

2209 The grizzled gladiator has made a magisterial, sinew-stiffening rallying call to what analysts say is a demoralised party that has been in retreat since the 2006 mid-term elections.

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Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo: TPM Reader PT: "What are the odds Governor Palin drops McCain from the ticket? After a performance like this, it's a serious question."

2208 Another convention speech, another glaring omission of two words: "George Bush". The outgoing president, by his very absence, seems almost to hover in the wings, like the ghost of Hamlet's father. In political terms, a cynic might say Bush is the crazy old uncle that the Republican family has wheeled off to a retirement home.

2205 BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei: The one word he mentioned more than any other was "fight"... 25 times.

2207 McCain is pitching to the three strands of conservatism unified under Reagan. His National Security Conservative credentials are already impeccable. His running mate may help allay any doubts Social Conservatives harbour about him. Has he done enough to convince the right he is a bona fide Economic Conservative?

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PaulaGrace, Houston, Texas, tweets: What a different message than Obama's. I can't get over it.

Justin Webb
2205 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: The end of the speech is almost entirely drowned out by cheering. Most people can't hear what he's staying but they don't care. They think there ought to be one rousing moment so they've decided to make one for themselves.

2204 Crowd goes wild as he finishes saying: "We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history."

2203 A rousing crescendo as the old warrior orders the crowd: "Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right for our country."

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[EarthicanDan], New Jersey, US I think it has been a great speech so far: It encouraged me to head over to Obama's website and make my first ever political donation!

2201 "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." An allusion to the Republican attack that Obama is a self-regarding snob with a messiah complex.

Justin Webb
2201 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: I wonder if part of his low-key speaking style is a deliberate effort to draw a distinction between himself and Obama.

2200 Standing ovation from emotional veterans and weepy army moms as he says: "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."

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Gerard Mulholland, Paris, France He is still speaking as I write. I am not in the slightest bit impressed. Obama's better as an orator but McCain has the certainty of the wishful thinker who wants to undercut the freedom and lifestyle of all on his long, long wish-list of enemies.

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seanhackbarth, northern Virginia tweets: I want a Sarah Palin encore. Sorry, John.

Justin Webb
2158 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: He tells the story of being shot down over Vietnam with a twinkly charm. Humorous, but it brings you up short to look at him - a 72-year old man - and to think what his body has been through. And his mind.

2157 "I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me."

Translation?: While Obama was playing hide-and-seek with his fellow second-graders, I was evading missiles over Vietnam.

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RickMoore, Orange County, California tweets: When he talks about remembering Pearl Harbor it tends to emphasise his age. Good story, but maybe self-defeating.

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Ratko Maltar, Cleveland, US His speech is like any other Western politician's one today. Just a speech. One must work to live America.

2153 McCain says: "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. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not." McCain is referring to his bi-partisan record, for which he was once branded a heretic by some in the GOP establishment, of reaching across the aisles on global warming, campaign finance and immigration.

2153 McCain says: "The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you." Democrats will say McCain is trying to usurp Obama as the "post-partisan candidate". It has been said that in the 2000 Republican primary campaign, Bush outflanked McCain by hijacking his platform as the reform candidate. Is McCain now doing the same to Obama on his message of change?

Comment from blogger
Jim Geraghty, The Campaign Spot: Compared to last night, I don't feel all the nerves, and all of the electricity. It's a very solid speech, delivered in a solid, natural, very McCain-esque manner, and I figure it has to be coming across that way at home in the nation's living rooms. The crowd in here seems the same way.

2150 He is detailing his record of accomplishment and experience, trying to say he would not require on-the-job training in the Oval Office.

2150 A big round of applause as he pledges "to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace".

Justin Webb
2151 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Again, when he says "I know how to stand up to those who oppose us", he whispers it. The line has little effect in the hall but may well strike a chord outside.

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Gary Thornton, Lake Jackson, Texas, USA Experience vs. Inexperience -no comparison. I will vote for Republicans McCain and Palin, rather than chance the Democrat for chief executive who is unqualified and has no valid experience.

2148 He warns "al-Qaeda" will "strike us again if they can", Iran is "on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons", and "the brave people of Georgia need our solidarity and prayers" in the face of Russia's "invasion".

Justin Webb
2147 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: A big cheer as well for a promise to drill new oil wells off the American coast. Funny, he hasn't mentioned man-made global warming. The Iron Lady from Alaska doesn't think it exists. A real straight-talk express line would have been to tell this audience - and her - that it does.

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Dales Kid, Coral Gables, Florida You know I'm all for free speech and protesting but the Democrats and liberals are a classless lot. John McCain is giving his nomination speech and morons in the audience are protesting and causing disruption. How about listening to the speech before actually like a jackass. Liberals want to know why people don't pay attention to them and why they lose election after election, it's because they don't listen - they assume. McCain so far in his speech hasn't had the "zeal" the Palin had.

2146 "Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that." Amid rising gas prices, energy policy has become a real wedge issue.

2145 McCain outlines his plans for offshore drilling (Obama has not been enthusiastic on offshore drilling). McCain seems to have thrust offshore drilling, which he used to be against, to the centre of his economic message. McCain also proposes to build new nuclear plants (on which Obama has been lukewarm).

Justin Webb
2144 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: A promise for more choice in education gets good cheers as well. This is the kind of thing that the country needs to hear, though frankly I think this audience would rather be cheering and booing - and they're still dreaming of SarahÖ

2142 "Education is the civil rights issue of this century." McCain favours a publicly-funded voucher scheme allowing parents with children in rubbish schools to send them to better ones, a policy some say would improve the lives of children from deprived areas. Obama, out of deference to teaching unions, opposes school choice, analysts say.

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shaunking, Atlanta, Georgia, tweets: As a pastor and leader, I strongly believe in the power of persuasive public speaking. McCain does not have this gift and its an important one

2141 "That's going to change on my watch." McCain is telling voters in living rooms across America he is not the status quo candidate. He is trying to rebut Democratic arguments that a McCain presidency would amount to a third Bush term.

Justin Webb
2141 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: We've reached a section of the speech where he goes through the things he would do and the things Obama would do - with cheers for him and boos for Obama. The audience is energised but I'm not sure it plays that well around the nation.

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PaulaGrace, Houston, tweets: McCain has the opportunity to go to Washington and fulfill his promises! Even more so with Palin as his VP! Go limited government!!

2139 He rails against government-mandated healthcare saying Obama will "force families into a government run healthcare system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor."

2139 A succession of boos as McCain says Obama will raise taxes until the pips squeak.

2137 Some Republican orthodox red meat: "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."

Justin Webb
2136 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: An important little story now about a family having a tough life in the heartland. It ends with him saying: "Their lives matter to me". If people believe that, McCain has a chance of winning this. If he's unconvincing he simply can't win. And he knows the polls show most people don't think he understands their lives.

2136 The crowd loves this line: "The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics!"

2135 There's the C-word again: "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us."

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Fran Hutchinson, Newfane, US Generalities, platitudes, and attacks on the opponent. This is a speech? The most bizarre thing is that the GOP (Republican party) has declared "this election is not about issues", which pretty much covers them for not presenting any solutions. Having an administration that did not think about issues and made no plans is what got the US into the sinkhole it's in now. Even a good number of Republican voters do not want four more years of this disaster.

2131 McCain says how he backed the Iraq troop surge when it looked like political suicide for him. "I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn't a popular thing to do. And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war."

Comment from blogger
Michael Crowle, The New Republic: The crowd is peppered with shouting protesters tonight but I'm not sure the crowd's response--loud chants of "USA! USA!" are the right response. I'm guessing the tinny shouts are hard to hear on TV but the chanting stops McCain in his tracks. It's an overcompensation.

2130 Pugnacious McCain says he has fought Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists, tobacco companies, trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.

Justin Webb
2130 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: A strange part of the speech now where he's talking about changing Washington - does he think President Bush has been a good thing or a bad thing? It's one of the questions he's going to have to address in the speech. It's almost as if the enemy has been in power in Washington for the last eight years.

2130 More cheers as he says: "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."

2127 "And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming." A first broadside against the Bush legacy? The president has been widely criticised from within his own party for tolerating big spending increases. And there's that magic word, this year's electoral Abrakadabra, that the Obama campaign has all but trademarked: "change".

2127 He praises his running mate Sarah Palin as a maverick in his own image who's "taken on the special interests". But analysts say questions about his VP pick's experience and background remain. Some pundits have said his potentially risky choice indicates President McCain would be "Dice-Roller-in-Chief".

Justin Webb
2125 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: A protester is shouting - the crowd is drowning him out with prolonged shouts of "USA".

2124 "But let there be no doubt, my friends, we're going to win this election," he says. He actually can't continue because the fire-up crowd won't stop chanting "USA!"

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Rick Choi, Los Angeles, US No way. The Republicans destroyed this country internally and especially in our standing in the world. Voting for John McBush will reward the Republicans for the last eight lousy years. No way.

2122 He appeals to moderate swing voters, saying he intends to earn their trust

2122 To Obama: "You have my respect and admiration... We are fellow Americans and that's an association that means more to me than any other."

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Craig Traylor, Houston, Texas, United States I wish I could flip the ticket and have Palin as the President and McCain as the VP...but... I will be happy to pull the lever in November for the next President of the USA...John McCain..

2120 McCain hails his sprightly mother Roberta. The 96-year-old's presence may help persuade any voters concerned by her 72-year-old son's health - he has had four bouts of cancer - that he has longevity in his genes.

Justin Webb
2117 BBC North America editor Justin Webb: A slightly tentative start from John McCain with praise for Laura Bush. Most Americans know that the Bushes and McCains are not close. He can't waste time in this speech with platitudes - he's got to say something exciting.

2118 He pays loving tribute back to his wife Cindy, saying he knows "she will make a great first lady". Crowd goes wild.

2118 He pays tribute to the president, but doesn't mention him in name.

2117 McCain's daughter Meghan is fighting back tears as her father accepts the nomination "with humility and confidence", to uproarious chants of "USA!"

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2050 Marc Ambinder, The, at the convention tweets:McCain intro video is well done if overwritten. Mentions "pro-life."

2115 I wonder if McCain has his lucky charms on him tonight. He reputedly carries more of them than a voodoo shaman - including a lucky compass, feather, coin and rock. Obama's lucky charms include a poker chip and an American eagle.

2114 The gnarled renegade stalks the stage, relishing the moment, soaking up the crowd's vivats like a prizefighter. John Sidney McCain III is no longer the gracious loser; he is now the nominee.

2113 Will McCain give any rhetorical nod to Bush? While the president is still admired by Republican loyalists, his radioactive approval ratings may make any association with him seem as about as welcome to McCain as the embrace of a giant squid to a deep-sea diver.

2111 Will be interesting to see how tonight's television viewing figures compare with Obama's convention speech last week (more than 38m viewers); or even with McCain's running mate Sarah Palin last night (reportedly 37m plus).

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2050 aeanhackbarth, northern Virginia tweets: Delegates need to hear some of the new Metallica album.

2109 Hard to believe McCain's campaign was nearly dead in the water this time last year; he was trailing the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, all now his groupies. The Arizona senator's journey to the nomination has been arguably as remarkable as Obama's.

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Robert Grant, Oviedo, Spain I was impressed with Sarah Palin. Anyway this is an American thing and they are wise enough to choose the best man. But my money and thinking are on Mccain.

2108 A hush in the auditorium as the biographical video rolls. McCain's military service and Hanoi Hilton hell is his real qualification for the presidency, for some voters.

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2050 RickMoore, Orange County, CA, tweets: When the TV focuses on Sarah I just think 'there's my friend'" I think a lot of ladies are thinking the same thing.

2105 Workers have rebuilt the convention stage to resemble the intimate town-hall setting that McCain enjoys on the campaign trail, pundits say, in stark contrast to the grander set last week for his Democratic rival. McCain likes this kind of setting so much he challenged Obama to a series of town-hall debates.

Comment from blogger
Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish: What McCain needs to do is tell us what he will do for the economy, for energy independence, for healthcare, for the debt, for Iraq and Afghanistan. If he doesn't, it's over. More to the point: it should be over.

2058 Cindy has made an emotional speech, praising with dewy eyes John McCain the man, husband and father, refraining from any overt partisan swipes, as one would expect from a first lady

Comment from blogger
Michael Crowley, the New Republic: The good news for McCain is that he's virtually guaranteed to be a vast improvement over these awful warmups.

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2050 lonestarroy at the convention tweets: The honor and respect, and the patriotism. How can anyone be a democrat? Do they willingly ignore truth for sake of romance.
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Irene Heitsch, Austin, US Nothing he could say would make me vote for him. His choice of Sarah Palin was extremely irresponsible and shows how little regard he has for this country.
2044 McCain's wife, Cindy, is paying a loving tribute to her husband. She gushes: "I hit a home run with John McCain!" The crowd is waving "We Love Cindy" signs, clearly convinced she is a first lady-in-waiting to her fingertips.

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