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.
“I’m very proud to have introduced our next Vice President to the country. But I can’t wait until I introduce her to Washington. And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming.”
On solving problems in Washington:
“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.
“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.”
On love of country:
“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.”