US elections 2008

Page last updated at 05:13 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 06:13 UK

Bush backs McCain for president

President Bush: "John McCain is ready to lead this nation"

President George W Bush has praised John McCain's service and leadership in a speech to the Republican convention.

Speaking via video-link from the White House, he told delegates in St Paul, Minnesota, that Senator McCain was "a great American and the next president".

Mr McCain is due to be nominated on Thursday as the party's presidential candidate for the 4 November election.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000, said Mr McCain was the man to unite the US.

In his eight-minute address, Mr Bush described Mr McCain as a president ready to make the tough decisions needed "in a dangerous world".

John McCain's life is a story of service above self
President George W Bush

"John McCain's life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation," Mr Bush said.

He also spoke of Mr McCain's life as "a story of service above self" and emphasised the "independence and character" he showed in backing the administration's "surge" strategy of pouring more forces into Iraq.

President Bush cancelled his planned opening night speech amid concerns that overt political campaigning would play badly with voters when the US Gulf Coast was suffering the effects of Hurricane Gustav.

But many Republicans would have been glad he was not there in person, as the convention aims to define Mr McCain as very different to his unpopular predecessor, says the BBC's Adam Brookes in St Paul.

Bipartisan politics

Giving the night's keynote speech, Mr Lieberman spoke of Mr McCain as "the best choice to bring our country together and lead our country forward".

Mr Lieberman - a former Democrat who was Al Gore's running mate in 2000 - told those who wondered what he was doing at a Republican convention: "I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party."

Senator Lieberman on why he backs John McCain

He praised Mr McCain for his independence, commitment to bipartisan politics and determination to root out corruption and fight special interests in Washington.

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

Mr Lieberman described the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, as a "gifted and eloquent young man", but added: "Eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times."

Former Senator Fred Thompson, who ran against Mr McCain in the party's primaries, delivered fierce criticism of the Democrats.

Mr Obama, he said, was "the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president".

Mr Thompson praised Mr McCain's military service, his courage while a prisoner of war in Vietnam and his commitment to reform in Washington.

He also rounded on the media for their scrutiny of Mr McCain's vice presidential choice, Sarah Palin, and her family.

Unknown quantity

Mrs Palin, the governor of Alaska, announced on Monday that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant, would have the baby and marry her boyfriend.

Voters in Minnesota give their views on Republican Sarah Palin and her daughter's pregnancy

Our correspondent says Mrs Palin's selection as vice presidential nominee has caused great excitement among social conservatives and evangelical Christians gathered at the convention.

But across the broader Republican Party there seems to be some unease at the choice of someone who is an unknown quantity, he says.

Mrs Palin is due to address the convention on Wednesday. Mr McCain is set to formally accept his nomination in a prime-time speech on Thursday evening.

Most of the first day's political events were suspended out of respect for communities affected by Hurricane Gustav.

At least three people were arrested on Tuesday during a tense anti-poverty march that ended near the Republican convention arena, the Xcel Center in St Paul.

Police used smoke bombs to scatter protesters they said were trying to get past security fences. It came a day after nearly 300 people were arrested in protests the day before.

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Guardian Unlimited Full text of Sarah Palin's address in St Paul - 2 hrs ago
The Indy Channel McCain, Palin Formally Nominated By GOP - 2 hrs ago
Business Journal of Milwaukee Remarks by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Nominee to Address the 2008 Republican National Convention - 3 hrs ago
RTE Online Hockey mom 'checks' Obama against the boards - 4 hrs ago
Arab News Hurricane Gustav makes way for Hurricane Sarah - 4 hrs ago

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