Palin vows to help McCain bring change to Washington

(AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin claimed herhistoric spot as the Republican Party's vice presidential nomineeWednesday night, uncorking a smiling, sarcastic attack on BarackObama and winning cheers of acceptance and approval after atumult-filled first week on the national stage. She vowed to the Republican National Convention - and millionsmore around the country - that she would help presidential nomineeJohn McCain bring real change to Washington, saying "he's a manwho's there to serve his country and not just his party." McCain joined her on stage, to even bigger cheers. In ananti-climactic roll call vote, the delegates then awarded him thepresidential nomination he has sought for a decade - propelling himinto the fall campaign. At 72, the Arizona senator is the oldestfirst-time nominee in history. The 44-year-old Palin, scarcely known a week ago, had topbilling on the third night of the convention. The first woman vicepresidential candidate in party history, she made her solo nationaldebut after days of tabloid-like scrutiny of her and her family. Some of the biggest roars were for her barbs aimed at Democraticpresidential nominee Obama. "Victory in Iraq is finally in sight; he wants to forfeit,"she said of Obama. "Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflictcatastrophic harm on America; he's worried that someone won't readthem their rights." To the delight of the delegates, McCain strolled unexpectedlyonto the convention stage after the speech and hugged his runningmate. "Don't you think we made the right choice" for vice president?he said as his delegates roared their approval. It was an unspokenreference to the convention-week controversy that has greeted her,including the disclosure that her 17-year-old unmarried daughterwas pregnant. The packed convention hall exploded in cheers as McCain stoodwith Palin and her family - including mother-to-be Bristol and thefather, 18-year-old Levi Johnston. Palin drew waves of approval from the moment she stepped ontothe convention stage, hundreds of camera flashes reflecting off herglasses. If McCain and his campaign's high command had any doubt abouther ability at the convention podium, they needn't have. With heryouthful experience as a sportscaster and time spent in thegovernor's office, her timing was flawless, her appeal to the crowdobvious. "Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the samechallenges and the same joys," she said as the audience signaledits understanding. She traced her career from the local PTA to the governor'soffice, casting herself as a maverick in the McCain mold, andseemed to delight in poking fun at her critics and her ticketmate'spolitical rivals. Since taking office as governor, she said she had taken on theoil industry, brought the state budget into surplus and vetoednearly one-half billion dollars in wasteful spending. "I thought we could muddle through without the governor'spersonal chef - although I've got to admit that sometimes my kidssure miss her." Not surprisingly, her best-received lines were barbs at Obama. "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a `communityorganizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," shesaid, a reference to Obama's stint as a community organizer. "I might add that in small towns we don't quite know what tomake of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when theyare listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to theirreligion and guns when those people aren't," she said. That was a reference to Obama's springtime observation aboutsome frustrated working-class Americans. By contrast, she said of McCain: "Take the maverick out of theSenate. Put him in the White House. "He's a man who's there to serve his country, and not just hisparty." "In politics, there are some candidates who use change topromote their careers," she said in another cutting reference toObama's campaign theme. "And then there are those, like JohnMcCain, who use their careers to promote change." A parade of party luminaries preceded Palin to the conventionpodium, and Republicans packing the hall cheered every attack onObama. "He's never run a city, never run a state, never run abusiness, never run a military unit. He's never had to lead peoplein crisis," said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of McCain'srival. "This is not a personal attack ... it's a statement of fact -Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada." Palin also jabbed at the news media, which have raisedconvention week questions about her background and her family. "Here's little news flash for all those reporters andcommentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their goodopinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of thiscountry." McCain arrived in the Republican National Convention cityearlier in the day to accept the prize of a political lifetime.Instantly, he defended his choice of a running mate, saying she wasready to serve as commander in chief after less than two years asgovernor of Alaska. "Oh, absolutely," he said in an ABC interview. "Having been the governor of our largest state, the commanderof their National Guard, she was once in charge of their naturalresources assets actually, until she found out there was corruptionand she quit. ..." The campaign depicted Palin's critics as out to destroy thefirst female running mate in party history. While she readied the speech of her career, McCain's topstrategist, Steve Schmidt, complained about a "faux mediascandal," generated, he said, by "the old boys' network that hascome to dominate the news establishment." Not everyone was quite on message, though. "I think that Gov. Palin and Sen. Obama do not have extensiveexperience in government," Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania toldreporters. He said she has potential, and judged Obama a"political phenomenon, no doubt about it." Whatever Palin's impact on the race, McCain's story was amongthe most arresting in recent presidential politics. The son and grandson of admirals, he had a rebellious youth byhis own account, running up a healthy ledger of demerits at theNaval Academy. Shot down over Vietnam, he was held and tortured formore than five years before his release. Along the way, he turneddown an offer of early freedom from captors eager for a propagandaboost. Elected to Congress in 1982, he moved to the Senate in 1986 as aReagan Republican. Soon singed by the "Keating Five" scandal,involving the savings and loan industry, he shifted course. He began carving out a maverick's role, championing legislationto reduce the influence of money in politics and fighting wastefulgovernment spending. Increasingly over the years, he parted company with fellowRepublicans on issues as diverse as tobacco, health care,immigration, judicial nominees, a commission to investigate theSept. 11 terror attacks, the use of torture in interrogations andmore. He first ran for president in 2000, but lost the GOP nominationto George Bush in a bitter struggle. As the early front-runner eight years later, he watchedhelplessly as anger with the Iraq war drained him of the support ofindependents while conservatives deserted because of legislationgiving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship. Out of money - but not hope - he pared back his campaign andpersevered. When Huckabee defeated Romney in the leadoff Iowacaucuses, it opened the door for McCain to win the New Hampshireprimary five days later. He did, and despite a chronic shortage of funds, methodicallydispatched his rivals, one by one, before clinching the nominationwith a series of big-state Super Tuesday wins on Feb. 5. Never a favorite of conservatives, he worked slowly to draw themto his side, and his selection of Palin was a surprising stroke. Social conservatives greeted her pick enthusiastically - supportthat coalesced in the ensuing days as her daughter's pregnancybecame known. While McCain himself appeals to independents, strategists saidthey hoped Palin's presence on the ticket would gain a second lookfrom conservative Democrats who sided with New York Sen. HillaryRodham Clinton during her failed candidacy earlier in the year. Click here to watch Gov. Palin's entire speech News 12 New Jersey - Election '08

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