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US media mixed on McCain speech

American media have presented a mixed reaction to John McCain's speech at the Republican Party's national convention in St Paul, Minnesota.

John McCain
Some US commentators thought Mr McCain's speech was lacklustre

Several commentators note that the speech was somewhat flat, especially compared to rival Barack Obama's Democratic convention finale last week and to his own running-mate Sarah Palin's speech on Wednesday night.

However, some observers also point out that Mr McCain successfully distanced himself from incumbent Republican President George W Bush, while not alienating himself from core party supporters.

"That is why some of the strongest passages in the speech were an attempt to airbrush President Bush out of the history books and re-create a competent, conservative, non-corrupt Republican Party," writes Walter Shapiro in Salon.com.

In the end, tonight's speech merely confirmed what many of us knew [all] along: McCain just doesn't have good answers to our troubled economy
Jonathan Cohn
The New Republic

The Daily Kos picks up that theme: "As Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president, he and his supporters sounded the call of insurgents seeking to topple the establishment, even though their party heads the establishment."

Roger Simon, in Politico.com, also points out the balancing act that Mr McCain must perform to reach the White House.

"If you didn't know that John McCain was a Republican, you might think he was running against the Republicans… John McCain is a maverick who has now done what mavericks almost never do: Win. And now he must lead a party while maintaining his independence from it."

Further, Mr McCain sought to reinforce his image as a maverick while "pledging to rise above Washington's acrimony as president and strike a new tone by reaching across partisan divides," write Gerald F Seib and Laura Meckler in the Wall Street Journal.

"The pledge, in a speech delivered to the closing night of his party's national convention here, was designed to help him launch the fall campaign by reclaiming the image of an agent of change in a year when voters are clamouring for one - and at a time when his image as a maverick has been questioned."

McCAIN'S MOST-USED WORDS
Tag cloud - words used by John McCain

But the New York Times asks whether Mr McCain's promised bipartisanship would continue if he were elected president.

"Mr Bush, too, promised the same bipartisanship in his campaigns, and then governed in the most divisive, partisan way," the newspaper states in an editorial.

"Americans have a right to ask which John McCain would be president. We hope Mr McCain starts to answer that by halting the attacks on Mr Obama's patriotism and beginning a serious, civil debate."

Other commentators mention that speech-making has never been Mr McCain's strong point and Thursday night was no exception.

"As delivered, I thought it was somewhat flat, at least until the end - stepped-on by too much applause at times, running up against the convention hall's desire for redder meat at others, and hampered by McCain's own halting, none-too-fluid style of speechmaking throughout," says Ross Douthat in Atlantic.com.

Justin Webb
I have to say, from my vantage point next to the DC delegation, my overall impression was that the audience in the hall were disappointed
BBC North America editor Justin Webb

Also criticised is a lack of economic policy substance from the Arizona senator.

"In the end, tonight's speech merely confirmed what many of us knew [all] along: McCain just doesn't have good answers to our troubled economy," says Jonathan Cohn in the New Republic's Plank blog.

"I don't know whether the voters will care about this, but I do know they should."

And the Washington Post comments that as the two rivals for the presidency enter the final stretch of the campaign, they have both positioned themselves on the same territory.

"Two US senators, they both present themselves as outsider critics of Washington who will bring change to the practices and policies of the capital, but who both presented agendas that deviated little from party dogma."


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