Jackson delegates praise address
By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
September 5, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — John McCain, a POW turned political rebel, vowed Thursday night to vanquish the “constant partisan rancor” that grips Washington as he launched his fall campaign for the White House. “Change is coming,” he promised the roaring Republican National Con-vention and a prime-time television audience.
“Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what’s right for our country,” he urged in a convention crescendo.
To repeated cheers from his delegates, McCain made only passing reference to an unpopular George W. Bush and criticized fellow Republicans as well as Democratic rival Barack Obama in reaching out to independents and swing voters who will pick the next president.
“We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us,” he said of the Republicans who controlled Congress for a dozen years before they were voted out of office in 2006.
As for Obama, he said, “I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it.”
McCain’s wife, Cindy, and ticketmate Sarah Palin and her husband joined him on stage as tens of thousands red, white and blue balloons cascaded from high above the convention floor.
Unlike Obama’s speech a week ago, McCain offered no soaring oratory until his speech-ending summons to fight for the country’s future.
But his own measured style left the hall in cheers, and as is his habit in campaign stops around the country, he stepped off the stage to plunge into the crowd after his speech. Palin joined him, embraced by the jubilant throng.
McCain touched only briefly on the Iraq war — a conflict that Obama has vowed to end. “I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn’t a popular thing to do,” the Republican said, adding that in the months since, the long-suffering nation had been spared from defeat. McCain’s appearance was the climax of the final night of the party convention, coming after delegates made Palin the first female vice presidential nominee in Republican history.
“She stands up for what’s right and she doesn’t let anyone tell her to sit down,” McCain said of the woman who has faced intense scrutiny in the week since she was picked.
“And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second Washington crowd: Change is coming,” McCain declared.
McCain and Palin were departing their convention city immediately after the Arizona senator’s acceptance speech, bound for Wisconsin and an early start on the final weeks of the White House campaign.
McCain, at 72 bidding to become the oldest first-term president, drew a roar from the convention crowd when he walked out onto the stage lighted by a single spotlight. He was introduced by a video that dwelt heavily on his time spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and as a member of Congress, hailed for a “faithful, unyielding love for America, country first.”
“USA, USA, USA,” chanted the crowd in the hall.
“I thought it was a terrific speech,” he said.
Barrasso said McCain’s history of public service and sacrifice for his country came out clearly in the night’s address.
“We really heard the life story of someone who was shaped by five and a half years of captivity and a lifetime of service to this county,” he said. “Here is someone who wants to fight for us for all the right reasons.”
State Rep. Colin Simpson of Cody said McCain’s call for a return to core Republican principles was apt.
“It’s the message that I hope resonates,” he said. “Getting back to good government, limited government, limited spending and government that works, not gridlock; government that is for Americans, not parties, not individuals — government for America, and I think that is what the American people want.”
People who attended the event said the energy of the crowd was intense.
“We have the best winning team here,” said Stuart Herman of Wilson. “The excitement here is just over-the-top. We are going all the way to the White House.”
Jackson native Amy Larimer said the speech was a perfect cap for the convention.
“All in all, it was a fabulous convention and a historic one for Wyoming,” said Larimer, who is the executive director of the state party. “It was an incredible night for Wyoming and America.”