Critics said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had to deliver the speech of her political life tonight or risk her career and throw into question the judgment of GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
If GOP delegates Jill Buck of Pleasanton and Jenniffer Rodriguez of Fremont were on a judging panel, Palin would receive 10s across the board.
“I have never felt so liberated!” Buck said in text message from the floor.
“Amazing!” Rodriguez said, also in a text message.
Granted, the Republicans were highly primed for Palin’s highly anticipated speech. Three former Republican presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani — had already ratcheted up the energy in the packed, 20,000-seat Xcel Center. They sneered at and heaped scorn upon the Democratic ticket in a series of snarky shots mixed with praise for McCain and Palin, spurring the delegates into standing ovation after standing ovation.
But McCain clearly saw something in Palin that most Americans had not had a chance to see until tonight: A woman who knows how to command attention.
She is well-spoken and funny. Her family is beautiful. She has a fascinating personal narrative. She delivered her barbs at the Democrats with that electric smile.
Her advocates describe her as tough. She needs to be. If the partisan nature of these two political conventions are any indication of how this race will play out in the next two months, it’s going to be a rough one.
Here are a couple of videos of Palin coming out on stage, followed by McCain’s appearance with the Palin family. The presidential nominee doesn’t typically come out on veep night but Obama started it last week at the Democratic convention.
(I also posted the text of Palin’s speech after the “more” button.)
Republican leaders gave the virtually unknown mayor of Hawaii, Laura Lingle, the opportunity to give delegates the first detailed speech of the convention about the background and qualifications of presumed veep nominee Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin a few minutes ago.
A former small city mayor herself and a female GOP governor, Lingle, who was the mayor of Maui, gave a cogent and rousing speech about Palin. Lingle emphasized Palin’s executive experience as a governor with budget and management experience.
Lingle also reminded delegates — and the millions of people watching on television — that Palin is just like any other parent whose family has its ups and downs. It was recently revealed that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and planning to marry the baby’s father.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee proved once again why he has endured as a popular figure despite his inability to win the presidential GOP nomination.
With his preacher background, he enthralled Republicans with his story-telling and sharp one-liners. He honestly admitted at the opening of his speech that McCain was his second choice for president, a not-so-subtle dig at former candidate Mitt Romney.
Some of his best lines were:
I am sick and tired of hearing about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s lack of experience. She got more votes running as mayor of Wasilla (population 10,000) than Joe Biden did running for the president of the United States.” (Biden is the Democrat’s vice presidential nominee and a Delaware senator.)
‘m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the first of three former GOP candidates to speak at the Republican National Convention, has just spoken to delegates. Next up is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani.
All three are expected to hammer the Democratic ticket of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and Deleware Sen. Joe Biden.
Romney’s biggest laugh line came when he recommended a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Ground Democrat Al Gore’s jet.
As I walked into the Xcel Center this afternoon, I saw a portion of the anti-war protest scene in downtown St. Paul.
It seemed pretty mild so far today.
But worries about violence have been far more justified in Minnesota than in Denver for the Democratic convention. Security is everywhere. I had to show my press credentials at least five times as I entered the building.
Delegate Jenniffer Rodriguez of Fremont, also president of the California Young Republicans, said she had to outrun protesters on Tuesday. “They were throwing stuff at us and yelling at us,” she said. “It was scary.”
This is the United States of America and as citizens, we are free to protest. But we are not free to harass and intimidate people who disagree with us.
Fred Thompson gave a better speech last night for John McCain than he ever did for his own presidential campaign.
California Republican delegated loved Thompson, an actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, and raved about his speech during their delegation party after the convention. (Click here to see the LA Times’ full transcript of the speech.) Thompson was, by far, the best speaker of the night although the speech of Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was interesting; Rep. Ellen Tauscher , D-Alamo, nominated Lieberman in 2000 for vice president at the Democratic National Convention.
Californians enthusiastically recounted their favorite lines from Thompson’s speech although the most mentioned was the line about how veep candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is the only VP in history who knows how to “properly dress a moose” except perhaps Teddy Roosevelt.
Thompson’s celebrity status continued today as he drew a crowd at the Pajama TV mini-studio in the Xcel Center. My press stand seat is right beneath it and I watched Thompson interview country music artist John Rich. Formerly of country group Big and Rich, the Amarillo, Tex., native will sing the National Anthem tonight and a song he wrote called “Raising McCain.” (Hmm, I wonder which candidate he supports?)
The PJ people got their pajamas in a twist when I tried to video a short clip of the interview but I did catch the pair right after they finished without incurring any further wrath.
My colleague Mary Anne Ostrom at the San Jose Mercury News gamely attended the California GOP delegation lunch this morning and blogged on this item:
Who’s the celebrity now?
Hanging around the California delegation breakfast this morning, it was ironic to hear Republicans describing how Sarah Palin will play in Democratic leaning California, where her conservative credentials may be a tough sell.
It’s all about her story, said several GOP boosters, citing her face on magazine covers and calling her a “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington” story. Californians will love the fact she’s an outdoorswoman, a marathoner, too. And, yes, even the celebrity factor will help, suggested Southern California Congressman David Dreier.
”Ok! Magazine has her on the cover. Us Weekly has her on the cover. This is something that is very unusual. I think that Sarah Palin is going to be a candidate who galvanizes the attention, capture the imagination of people who were never really focused on politics.’’
OK! Magazine, which calls itself “First for Celebrity News’’?
Excuse me, senator, asked one media member, isn’t “celebrity’’ what the McCain campaign just a few days ago was slamming Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama about, suggesting he is all story and no substance?
Dreier’s defense: ”If you look at what is says on the cover of OK! Magazine, it talks about the tough choice she made with her baby. So, I don’t know that that’s the kind of celebrity status that a lot of these people who are on the covers of those magazines make.’’
Added Dreier, “What I’m saying is that she is a unique candidate.’’
Pollster Frank Luntz is apparently considering a career change.
He spoke at the California GOP delegate breakfast this morning at Lake Minnetonka (it’s a lovely lakeside town north of St. Paul) where he roamed through the tables carrying a microphone and firing off jokes. He was pretty good, actually.
But the stand-up political comic did issue a serious warning: The Nov. 4 turnout among 18 to 24-year-olds for Republicans could be the worst in the party’s history. Republicans must reach out to young voters, he said.
Luntz later engaged GOP Chairman Ron Nehring of San Diego in what he called an A ti Z debate. Luntz took the Barack Obama side and told Nehring to argue McCain’s points as each each man took the next letter of the alphabet.
They got as far as “F” and “G.”
Nehring said, “F-that” and Luntz replied, “Go to hell.”
They laughed, so don’t get the wrong idea. But it’s probably just as well that they didn’t make it to the end of the alphabet.