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GOP convention: The final scenes

John McCain is officially the Republican Party’s nominee, signaling the start of what promises to pitched battle leading up to the Nov. 4 general election.

He strode to the stage tonight and delivered, in many ways, a classic McCain speech that focused heavily on service over self. (See the full text below.) Crews revamped the stage overnight and built a runway-style platform in Excel Center more suited to McCain’s style and reminiscent of Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s stage at Mile High Stadium in Denver a week ago.

Critics say McCain failed to deliver adequate policy details, that he repeated again the details of heroic military background as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

But some voters may find it more difficult to reconcile the two very different tones between last night and tonight. On Wednesday night, his veep nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and his former challengers such as ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ripped into Obama with the very kind of partisan rancor and scorn that McCain decried tonight.

The only unscripted moment in the speech happened when a young woman in the audience attempted to unfurl a banner and yelled out something I couldn’t quite hear.

She was relatively close to me and I could see security guards rip the banner out of her hand and haul her up the stair as she went limp. (I tried to videotape it but the stands were too dark and I figured my editor wouldn’t like it if I got myself arrested, too.) I assume it was an anti-war protest; a CodePink women reportedly pulled a similar stunt during Palin’s speech on Wednesday but it was on the other side of the stadium and I didn’t see it.

Here are a couple of videos of McCain’s entrance and the famous balloon drop.

Read more for McCain’s full speech. He followed it fairly closely: Continue Reading

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GOP convention: Take a tour of the floor

I wrangled a floor pass and wandered through the delegates gathered for the start of the final night of the Republican National Convention.

I particularly enjoyed the Texas delegation, whose cowboy hats and patriotic clothes really stand out in this stadium with 20,000 people.

Check out my videos on my tour:

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GOP convention: The race is on

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.)

Palin was impressive.

Continue Reading

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GOP convention: Hawaii governor introduces Palin

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.

Read more for her full comments: Continue Reading