September 04, 2008
McCain Speech Live Blogging

Last night's nearly live blogging was well-received, so we'll give this another whirl. Not that John McCain is likely to top Sarah Palin, but the more I type the less I have to listen to Lindsey Graham...

...updates posted oldest to newest, from the bottom up.

10:17 pm - Interesting. The New York Times front-pager on tonight's festivities aligns with Lowry's core analysis that McCain is at where he needs to be in terms of a campaign theme. The lede of that article is pretty much right where you would want to McCain to be with general election messaging.

10:03 pm - Prudent analysis from Rich Lowry: yes, delivery and text weren't hot...but McCain now has the right theme:

Just as Obama needed to ground his politics of hope last week, McCain needed to ground his politics of honor tonight. And he did. At least thematically. What's still lacking is the substance. He needs three simple, stark policy proposals to protect and ease the way of life of average Americans, and I think he already has two (on energy and health care) and can get another (a middle-class tax cut).


9:28 pm - Good sign: Joel Connelly is on McCain's case.

On to victory?

9:08 pm - In one sense the so-so ultimate impact of McCain's speech left an opportunity on the table. In another, he dodged a potential nightmare of giving a sucktastic speech in contrast to Obama's usual shine behind the podium (with teleprompter of course!).

At this early point, the reviews in the press - which will shape much of the coverage in the next news cycle - seem better than I expected. It sure looks like offering a speech that didn't actually thrill the audience of delegates was oddly helpful. The conservatives got their meat from other speakers...oh, did they.

Decent scenario given the potential damage points.

Affirmation: the news is heavy, heavy, heavy on the Palin impact...that and McCain as maverick.

Bizarre combo. Pretty good outcome...even if the flow of the speech still deserves a lot of heat.

8:46 pm - Media coverage does appear to be mixed, at least initially. Lots of Palin talk in the middle of this.

The Fourth Estate seems to be very interested in the fact that McCain has a) become the leader of the GOP while b) giving a speech that emphasized much of his Maverickness. Fair point, I suppose.

8:38 pm - The left will hate and mock McCain's speech...not realizing how little their mockery of Sarah Palin got them (which was almost a reverse benefit for Republicans). Lesson learned?

Probably not.

8:36 pm - The media clearly liked the reform-focused portions of the speech. Opposite of the crowd in many respects...(one base versus another if you will).

8:27 pm - It's clear the story of this convention is Sarah Palin and resulting enthusiasm for the GOP ticket - and how that changes the election. Oh, and McCain's our guy now too.

8:11 pm - Insta-grade: B. Solid content. Great closing section. Poor flow and continuity through much of the speech. Content on his vision for the Presidency was pretty good, though not outstanding. But the CNN guys are saying it had more than Obama.

Might well be true.

The contrast between he and Obama on oratory is ugly. But if great speeches were everything then the race wouldn't be close right now, but it is.

Note sure how the media coverage will be like of the speech. Probably mixed.

Takeaways: media is reporting on enthusiasm at GOP convention even after a not thrilling speech by McCain. Plus, it would appear that between the juice of Palin joining the ticket and the core points of McCain's speech that he has more to carry out of his convention onto the trail than Obama has out of his.

Game on.

8:08 pm - people guaranteed to be yelled at tomorrow: the staging guys. They did not anticipate the difference between the view of the full giant screen and the much smaller headshot of McCain during the bulk of the speech. Or if that was what they planned they should be fired.

8:05 pm - Yep, those last 10 minutes were like a different speech. Great finish. Mediocre for the rest, despite some very good individual moments...and some core components to build and expand upon out on the campaign trail.

8:02 pm - Mark Salter is going to get some heat for this speech. The last several minutes have been so much better than the whole of the first 3/4 of the speech. There were a number of great lines and policy nuggets...but in sum, not wonderful.

7:59 pm - McCain seems close to choking up on this.

7:56 pm - I think the sum of the speech thus far is less than its parts.

Then comes McCain dong the rare act of talking about his POW experience and its effect on him as person.

Understatement of the speech, talking about his physical condition when offered early release: "I wasn't in great shape."

7:52 pm - Here's a marker for you: "We need to change the way government does almost everything..."

7:51 pm - Rare moment: McCain gets emotional. He's talking about his experience in Vietnam, his hatred of war, and desire for peace.


Great crowd reaction.

7:49 pm - Best leadership contrast with Obama's speech: truth-telling on Russia...and foreign affairs in general. Oozes: I'm a serious leader. How about you, Senator?

7:47 pm - quote:

Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that.

Yes, they do. Run on that.

7:43 pm - Overall: good messaging so far. Decent delivery.

Hey, he just got to energy policy. Much more gusto now...from the audience and him.

7:40 pm - Good riff on taxes and the economy, including:

My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy.

7:38 pm - Understated difference in this campaign:

We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.

7:35 pm McCain goes to war against Congress. Blames both parties on spending, energy policy, and the culture of DC. Says:

We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.

Excellent. Now fill it in.

7:30 pm - This needs to make an appearance on the campaign trail:

You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you. [emphasis added]

7:28 pm - Now McCain is talking reform of Washington. Not a better topic for him. Declares "change is coming!" to DC.

More, please.

7:25 pm - Newsflash: people at the GOP convention like Sarah Palin. A lot.

McCain getting animated talking about Palin. Good, this thing started out slow.

7:23 pm - Good, the green backdrop is gone from the TV headshot. It's a light blue now...and I don't feel the need to puke.

God. Where do they get these Code Pink jack asses?

...and then McCain just made fun of them. Excellent.

7:21 pm - McCain keeping it classy, notes his respect for Obama and his supporters..."there's more that unites us than divides us"...regardless of the "differences" in this campaign.

7:20 pm - Make that 80/20 odds in favor of Roberta McCain over Michael Moore.

7:16 pm - what the hell? The big screen White House picture doesn't look good when shrunk down to the TV headshot. It's eerily similar to that lime green atrocity that was the rightful subject of derision earlier in this campaign season.


Alright, he got off a really good line about Cindy being his inspiration. Wise.

7:13 pm - Oh, never mind. Thompson's part was short. Damn.

Hey, did the lights just go out for about 2 seconds after McCain's started walking from the stage entrance to that lonely podium? Yikes.

Last thing we need is McCain tumbling off the side of that stage, Bob Dole-style. Then Roberta would probably kick someone else's ass too.

7:12 pm - video narrator shifts to Fred ass-kicking mode. Promising.

7:09 pm - Best part about this video, they're not covering up McCain's flaws. He's got a bit of a temper, he's "brash" at times, etc.

7:08 pm - change of plans, forget 50/50. I give Roberta McCain 65/35 odds to kick Michael Moore's fat behind.

7:05 pm - McCain video. Nearly from the get-go it's self-deprecating at times, rather than solely serious. Good. References to hot-headed, and his mom calls him a "mamma's boy."

7:04 pm - I've been trying to come up with a nicer way to say this that still gives justice to the sentiment, after watching David Gergen tangle with Alex Castellanos earlier on CNN about whether there is a "liberal Establishment" in this country. I can't, so I'll just say it: David Gergen is an unmitigated pussy.

7:02 pm - one explanation on Cindy McCain from K-Lo at the Corner: she's better in small forums. Makes sense. She's done lots of those. Huge speeches in primetime are a different ballgame.

6:58 pm - downside of Cindy McCain's remarks: not very compelling, with some exceptions. Upside: still added a different human element to McCain...and herself.

6:52 pm - Off topic, but, dude! David Postman is leaving the Seattle Times. Is anyone else left reporting on politics over there? Not like there's anything to cover in the next few weeks or anything.

6:50 pm - Ok, Cindy's remarks are really too long. Good part though: great discussion of McCain's family and his kids. The successful raising of fine children into adulthood always speaks well of a man (or woman!).

Nice moment. Cindy chokes up talking about bringing Bridget home for adoption.

6:46 pm - Palin has her hair back up tonight in full "naughty librarian" mode (...hey, don't shoot the messenger).

So, uh, keep it clean guys.

6:44 pm - hey, whadda ya know. Sarah Palin draws hearty applause when mentioned by Cindy.

6:43 pm - Cindy McCain's remarks seem a bit too long. But, I guess it's cleansing my mind of the boring white guys at the podium preceding her tonight.

6:41 pm - Lots of camera pans back to McCain's mother, Roberta. Prompting me to think: what are the odds she could take Michael Moore in a fight?

Probably 50/50.

Yes, I am weird.

6:38 pm - Cindy extends thoughts and prayers to Americans forced to flee their homes again because of "severe weather." Bush did it...didn't you know?

6:35 pm - L-o-n-g video about Cindy. Makes sense though. She has a lot of potential as a First Lady but could use a little softening, done nicely by simply talking about who she is and what she's done (especially charitable work).

McCain family on stage now, minus the candidate. Nice to see the two boys John fathered with Cindy...they look like they have their father's sass. Good luck to their commanding officers.

6:32 pm - Still have any doubts about the impact of Palin's speech? Hillary and other Democratic women are now being unleashed to counter her. And there's this: "[Obama strategist David] Axelrod says Obama will not challenge Palin's experience."


6:29 pm - before the video for Cindy McCain begins, let me say what I'd like to see from McCain tonight: his vision.

The last couple nights have done well in pummeling Obama/Democrats (Romney, Huckabee, Thompson, Giuliani, & Palin) and in making the case for McCain the man (Lieberman, Thompson, & Palin). To bring this all together, McCain needs to lay out his vision for the country, for the future, and his potential Administration.

From the excerpts that have come out it looks like that might happen. He doesn't need to talk much, if at all, about Obama. He needs to talk about what he - and Sarah Palin - will bring to Washington, DC in the next four years.

6:24 pm - Have some SurveyUSA polls while you're at it. Note Jim Miller's post below on the main page, noting that 52% of registered voters in Washington state think the media is rooting for Obama. In the crosstabs: 56% of Independents say the media is doing just that on Obama's behalf, versus only 10% saying the media is on McCain's side and 29% saying it's fair to both sides.

And that's in left-of-center Washington state.

Then, via HotAir, see this SurveyUSA product too:

24 hours ago, independent voters nationwide were split on whether Palin was an asset or a liability to McCain's campaign. Today, by a 2:1 margin, independents say Palin is an asset. Overnight, the percentage calling the Alaska governor an asset to the campaign climbed 13 points; the percentage calling her a liability fell 17 points.

But remember, no one could possibly like her because she's a right-wing nut job.

P.S. Bush lied.

6:15 pm - maybe it was a good thing Rudy went long and the Palin bio video didn't run last night. They're showing it now and it's not all that good. Hey, Jon Voight, we'd rather be hearing from your daughter!

6:12 pm - the hour before McCain includes Lindsey Graham, Mel Martinez, and Sam Brownback. I just spent a minute thinking whether there are three Republicans who have been in the national news in the last couple years who I would like to hear from less (excepting the quasi-criminals Don Young and Ted Stevens).

Nope. Can't think of any.

Hey, at least it'll probably make McCain look good.

Posted by Eric Earling at September 04, 2008 06:12 PM | Email This
1. Yes, Lindsey Gramnesty and Martinez would give amnesty immediately to the illegals.

They are definitely not conservatives.....

Posted by: Norm on September 4, 2008 06:14 PM
2. Graham was all right as he stayed on topic. You can tell he really likes Lieberman though.

I thought the video was all right. Gave a little background in case people haven't heard yet.

The decathlon gold medalist earlier was quite good. I also liked Joe Gibbs.

I especially like the stream at - just the convention itself, no media commentary.

Posted by: Brian on September 4, 2008 06:24 PM
3. This video of Cindy McCain and her life's work further illustrates how meaningless Barack Obama's years as a "community organizer" have been. If there has been one theme in this convention, it is that actions speak louder than words.

Posted by: Brian on September 4, 2008 06:33 PM
4. You know, Cindy's a pretty good speaker. Not fiery like Palin, but courteous, well spoken, and well paced. Quite good!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 4, 2008 06:50 PM
5. McCain-Obama tied!

Posted by: John Bailo on September 4, 2008 07:03 PM
6. McCain can't get three words out without the crowd going crazy. This could take all night. :)

Posted by: Brian on September 4, 2008 07:16 PM
7. I voting for him just for the "brown noise" crack. Damn, that's just funny.

Posted by: Mike H on September 4, 2008 07:27 PM
8. NAILED the economy. McCain wants Government out of the way of American businesses. He's exactly right!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 4, 2008 07:41 PM
9. Here it comes - DRILL BABY DRILL!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 4, 2008 07:44 PM
10. Obama came across in his speech as being a bit snotty and arrogantly smug. McCain is coming across as anything but.

In fact, he's exuding humility with a healthy dose of humor. Much better than Obama's speech.

Posted by: Mike H on September 4, 2008 07:58 PM
11. You couldn't pay me to vote for Obama, but this speech stinks! He had an opportunity here, but it is well past blown. Not that it matters at this point, but whoever chose the screens, wrote the speech and set the stage should be fired.

Posted by: en on September 4, 2008 07:59 PM
12. SWEET! Balloons falling and Heart's song Barracuda playing! Gotta LOVE IT!

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 4, 2008 08:07 PM
13. Sweeeeettttt.... Love that song.....

Nothing like a bit of teeth into the Palin Obama Race...... he he he

Ask any Democrat..Obama is running against Palin!!!

Posted by: Chris N on September 4, 2008 08:12 PM
14. Tied even before the end of the RNC convention....can't ask for more than that. for the liberal meltdown to continue unabated throughout the weekend as the pucker factor increases.

Posted by: Rick D. on September 4, 2008 08:18 PM
15. "My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy."

Why the Democrats want to shut down the vital creative destruction of a free market is just beyond me to figure out. This is free market economics 101, and is completely lost on the Democrats. Socialism and Marxism has complete rotted their brains I guess. I'm thinking Jimmy Carter #2 (or worse) is on the way with Obama/Biden. Bring on the Misery Index!

"We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself."

I get misty eyed when I hear this stuff. This is the Republican party that brought me aboard, not the party of George Bush that damn near sent me away. McCain might not be the perfect conservative but he's close enough for me if Palin or somebody like here is his running mate.

Posted by: G Jiggy on September 4, 2008 08:35 PM
16. Chris N @ 13 & Rick D. @ 14:
Yes, this is something that I caught yesterday for sure. Obama has to be the first presidential candidate that is running against the other party's Veep pick. Wild and Wacky stuff. What happened to Biden? Where's he at?

And yes, the Demorats should be afraid . . .very afraid. Sarahbarrcuda is on the prowl.

That said I wonder if Heart is going to request that the GOP stop using the cut. This has happened before with partisan, liberal musicians.

Posted by: G Jiggy on September 4, 2008 08:49 PM
17. Palin gets almost as many viewers as Obama!

"According to Nielsen ratings, Palinís number was just 1.1 million viewers shy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obamaís record-breaking speech at the Democratic meeting Aug. 28, according to the most recent Nielsen Media Research ratings."

Posted by: John Bailo on September 4, 2008 08:58 PM
18. McCain wasn't helped by the damn crowd interrupting him every other sentence. I wish he had gotten the chance to get a rhythm going. It actually made me yell 'SHUT UP ALREADY!' at the TV.
Also, the stupid idiot 'code pink' commies were causing problems off camera. There's a great view of the future of America under these socialist morons. We give Obama his time to shine, and they come in and disrupt ours. I hope they are prosecuted and jailed for as long as law permits.
I'm going to get a McCain Palin sticker, cut it down the centerline and stick it on my car with Palin's name on top. Maybe in the future I can put a Palin-Jindal sticker next to it.

Posted by: scott on September 4, 2008 09:56 PM
19. I didn't get a chance to see much of the speech, but did read it over on ABC News. From the text, the speech seemed a lot more like the McCain of old, and not the one who he seemed almost uncomfortable with during the primaries. I think now having the nomination and a running-mate that will handle the religious right concerns, McCain appears more relaxed and like the McCain I liked in 2000. Let's hope he keeps up the tone of tonight through the rest of the race. Let Sarah Palin handle the conservative lapdogs. For McCain to win the independents and middle he needs to be the McCain of 2000 and not the one that has to suck up to the right to get the nomination.

Congratulations John McCain and here's hoping for a race contrasting the approaches each candidate brings to the table.

Posted by: tc on September 4, 2008 10:12 PM
20. G Jiggy @16,

It didn't take long...

UPDATE: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart said Thursday night that Universal Music Publishing and Sony BMG have sent a cease and desist notice to the McCain-Palin campaign over their use of 'Barracuda.'

"We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored," the group said in a statement that said they "condemn" the use of the song at the Republican convention.

Posted by: Smoley on September 4, 2008 10:51 PM
21. I heard a couple of cable-heads wondering if perhaps the Fluff and Stuff campaign might be the one with VP buyers remorse.

Too damned priceless!

McCain did a good job in a venue that is not his strength. He speaks better when speaking extemporaneously from the heart to specific people in response to specific questions. This was the best I've seen him in this type of situation.

Cindy's speech, Fred Thompsons speech and of course Governor Palin's speech and all the videos did much to highlight the vast differences of commitment to service between the dim candidates and the GOP candidates. bHo and the bitter bride should be ashamed at their distinct lack of dedication to anything beyond their own lust for power and glory.

On another note, my spouse of 29 years was absolutely shocked to hear that Roberta McCain is 96 years of age and remarked she certainly didn't look it. With genes from her, I think we can all rest easily that John can serve out his first AND second term as President of the United States and go on to serve as a resourceful elder stateman beyond that. He'll live to attend more than a few state funerals for famous liberals and while unable to physically salute them, he will no doubt praise them even if they've proven themselves unworthy of it to the rest of us.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on September 4, 2008 11:23 PM
22. I agree, Ragnar, Roberta McCain does not look 96. Some good genes in that family. No wonder McCain could survive all that commie torture crap in Vietnam. He's one tough dude!

Posted by: Michele on September 4, 2008 11:39 PM
23. I've heard the complaints about the pacing, and I've got to be honest, it didn't strike me as that badly paced. Of course, I also think that speech-making is the wrong category to be judging this by; the right category is storytelling. McCain gave an adequate speech, but he told an engaging story.

Posted by: Eukardios on September 5, 2008 01:17 AM
24. Great analysis, Eric.

Posted by: swatter on September 5, 2008 07:41 AM
25. I thought McCain's speech was good, not great. Palin's speech will end up the story of the convention I think, and for good reason.

Things I liked about McCain's speech:

- government stand beside you. This was a great comparison to Obama, who wants government to do everything for you.

- critical of his own party during the 'trust' segment. This was fantastic. Everything he said was true, and it took guts to say it at the convention. He'll win over alot of independent voters with that segment.

- good segments on taxes, energy policy, trade, jobs. Nice comparisons with Obama's policies.

Things I didn't like:

- the interruptions. Not his fault, and I don't know what could have been done about it, but something should have.

- the background. Terrible. I was also grateful when the green went away.

- delivery was just average. I agreed with the MSM on this, it is not his strength. The rousing part at the end seemed a bit forced.

- a little too much Vietnam/POW stuff last night. McCain's segment on this was worth mentioning, but it went a bit long, especially after all the mentions earlier in the night. Would have preferred more forward looking statements while emphasizing the past experience. Palin's line about only one candidate who has actually fought for you hammers home the point in a concise manner without long segments of speech about it.

Posted by: Palouse on September 5, 2008 08:15 AM
26. Palouse,
I agree with what you said, although I didn't get to see much of it (read the full transcript later). I do think the POW stuff was good for McCain to close with, but I think there is a small growing backlash when he uses for his answer to everything. It is a fine and honorable story and he hit on aspects that normally aren't covered in his normal POW stories. He does however need to be careful on how he uses it, otherwise, in my mind it becomes almost John Kerry'ish (i.e., relying on his Vietnam narrative instead of the present).

Posted by: tc on September 5, 2008 08:37 AM
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Posted by: clsbvaedg lurqpxmj on September 7, 2008 08:25 PM
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