Updated: Blogging from the stands

When I arrived they were playing a country song with the lyrics: “I pledge allegiance to this flag, and if that bothers you, well that’s too bad.”

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When I arrived they were playing a country song with the lyrics: “I pledge allegiance to this flag, and if that bothers you, well that’s too bad.”


Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota’s first Republican Congresswoman, is up.

“Welcome to the land of Minnesota nice.”

(It’s so true. They are so NICE here. Everywhere. Nice. Not sure how much more niceness I can handle.)

“I do admit we have a lot of liberals here in Minnesota. But they are nice, happy liberals.”

She’s a mother of five, and 23 foster children.

“John and Cindy McCain have adopted a child, as have millions of big-hearted Americans.”

She’s talking about service: “Some presidential nominees know more about service than others.”

“Government is not a philanthropic organization. Government is not the family. And government certainly is not the church. As Republicans we recognize that when you keep more of your hard earned money then you are free to spend it on the charities that touch your heart and make a difference in your community. There are some people who believe a little differently and we heard from them last week. They think service is run best by Washington bureaucracy — I’m not kidding! And they think you should be footing the bill.”


The crowd just went wild for former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush (Sr.) who were spotted in the crowd.


Minneapolis firefighter Shanna Hanson gave a non-partisan speech on helping victims of the hurricanes. Now we get a historical video about Abraham Lincoln.


Tommy Espinoza:

“My name is Tommy Espinoza and I am a Catholic (cheers), a Hispanice (cheers), and a Democratic (BOOS!) and I am proud to call John McCain my friend.”

He’s talking about his family’s faith and values.

“Jesus Christ and the Virgen de Guadalupe are at the center of our home.”

On McCain: “I asked him, what sustained you when you were in the prison camp? He looked at me intensely and said, ‘My faith in God, my country, and my family.’ From then on, we were brothers, hermanos. I am honoured to be the godfather of John and Cindy’s son, Jimmy.

“Why does a Hispanic Democrat support John McCain? First, because of faith. No man can survive a prisoner of war camp without God’s protection. He called on God’s help to bring him home… Second hope. It’s a rare man who makes you want to be more and be more. … Public service is more than his profession. It is a passion.

“And lastly love. The Gospel of Matthew: I was a stranger and you made me welcome. When John McCain sees immigrants are also God’s children, I know his suffering has given him compassion for the weak, broken families and the poor.” [This got more applause than you might expect given how controversial McCain’s position on immigration reform has been in the party.]

John McCain believes in the sanctity of human life from conception. He believes in the sanctity of marriage [surprised they’re going there given the story of his first marriage] and family life. He is the leader the country needs. Viva John McCain! Viva America!”


Now a video profile of George H.W. Bush is getting a standing ovation. The Texan delegation are waving their cowboy hats.


Bill Gross, a former 747 captain for UPS from North Dakota, is here to “talk about the importance of service and putting others first” and promoting his charity called “Farm Rescue”.

“Farm Rescue does not give money to farmers – – it’s not a financial bailout or handout. We plant and harvest crops free of charge for farm families that have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster. We give them an opportunity to continue their livelihood during an unexpected crisis.”


Military service time.

We just heard from Leslie Smith, a former pubic affairs officer for the Army who developed a blood clot and complications while serving in Bosnia. ” As I woke up from my first surgery and saw that my left foot was gone, I whispered to my mother, “but I used to be a cheerleader…”
And she whispered back, “Now, you can be the coach.”

Now a video about a Navy Seal, Mike Monsoor, who died while throwing himself on a grenade.

The moral of the stories: “Country First.”

Now here comes Orson Swindle, a cell-mate of McCain’s from Vietnam. He is recognizing Monsoor’s family and other Medal of Honor recipients. There are loud chants of “USA!! USA!!”

He is now recognizing two dozen of McCain’s fellow POW’s in the audience. Lots of hooting, hollering, chanting and applause.


Now Laura Bush. Screaming applause.

“The Repulican party has an exciting ticket: a real American hero in Senator John McCain and a strong executive and proven reformer, Gov. Sarah Palin. I am proud that America’s first female vice-president will be a Republican woman.” (cheers and whistling)

She’s talking about be proud of the women who served in her husband’s cabinet. Mentions a few, but when she gets to Condoleezza Rice, the crowd goes nuts.

Introducing Bush, she offers what she calls “a little straight talk.”

“On an issue close to my heart, president Bush initiated the most important education reforms in a decade… today student achievment is rising across the board and the scores for minority students are the highest they’ve ever been.”

She notes Bush’s court appointees (“We all know how important it is for America to have judges who respect the Constitution,) and the faith based initiative. Thanks to the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, nearly 2 million Africans are getting the drugs they need.”

“In Afghanistan and Iraq, 50 million people are now living in freedom.”

“Let’s not forget: President Bush has kept the American people safe.”


Now President Bush is on via video, saying he is thankful that the damage from the hurricanes was less than had been feared.

He calls McCain “a great American.” He is talking about McCain’s refusal to accept early release from captivity in Vietnam.

“When he was released his arms had been broken, but not his honour.”

If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what was right for his country, you can be sure that the Angry Left never will.”

He says McCain will “stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress and make the tax cuts permanent.”

“He is not afraid to tell you what he thinks. Believe me, I know!”

Now he’s talking about McCain’s faith in the surge.

“He told them he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. That is the kind of vision we need in our next commander-in-chief.” (loud applause.)

Sarah Palin is “strong and principled governor.” [Note: Her name is getting even louder cheers than McCain’s.]


Now a video about Ronald Reagan and “conviction politics” and “getting government off your back.”


And now another actor: former presidential candidate, Fred Thompson.

On Democrats: “Listening to them you’d think that we were in the middle of a great depression; that we are down, disrespected and incapable of prevailing against challenges facing us. We know that we have challenges … always have, always will. But we also know that we live in the freest, strongest, most generous and prosperous nation in the history of the world and we are thankful.”

[That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone on stage acknowledge “challenges.”]

He calls Sarah Palin “a breath of fresh air.”

“She is from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family. Some Washington pundits and media big shots are in a frenzy over the selection of a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit. Well, give me a tough Alaskan Governor who has taken on the political establishment in the largest state in the Union — and won — over the beltway business-as-usual crowd any day of the week.”

“She has run a municipality and she has run a state. And I can say without fear of contradiction that she is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose … with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.

Now on to McCain. So far, Thompson is the most humourous speaker of the night:

“As I speak, John and Cindy McCain have one son who’s just finished his first tour in Iraq. Another son is putting “Country First” and is attending the Naval Academy. We have a number of McCains in the audience tonight.
Also here tonight is John’s 96-year-old mother, Roberta. All I’ve got to say is that if Roberta McCain had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered.”

“Now, John’s father was a bit of a rebel, too. In his first two semesters at the Naval Academy, he managed to earn 333 demerits. Unfortunately, John later saw that as a record to be beaten.”

He’s telling the McCain military story in detail. I will link to the entire speech when available.

“They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return. John McCain said “No”. After days of neglect, covered in grime, lying in his own waste in a filthy room, a doctor attempted to set John’s right arm without success … and without anesthesia. His other broken bones and injuries were not treated. John developed a high fever, dysentery. He weighed barely a hundred pounds.

“Expecting him to die, his captors placed him in a cell with two other POWs who also expected him to die. But with their help, John McCain fought on. He persevered. So then they put him in solitary confinement…for over two years.
Isolation … incredible heat beating on a tin roof. A light bulb in his cell burning 24 hours a day. Boarded-up cell windows blocking any breath of fresh air. The oppressive heat causing boils the size of baseballs under his arms.
The outside world limited to what he could see through a crack in a door.

“We hear a lot of talk about hope. John McCain knows about hope. That’s all he had to survive on…

[What a great choice to have Fred Thompson deliver this speech. He’s a professional actor and knows just how to deliver a story that is already incredibly dramatic, but with his folksy, well-time delivery, he has people at the edge of their seats.]

Here comes Thompson’s attack on Obama:

“To deal with these challenges the Democrats present a history making nominee for president. History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for President. Apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history making, Democrat controlled Congress. History making because it’s the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation’s history.”

“Together, they would take on these urgent challenges with protectionism, higher taxes and an even bigger bureaucracy. And a Supreme Court that could be lost to liberalism for a generation.”

He says American needs “A President who feels no need to apologize for the United States of America.”

“No, they’re just going to tax “businesses”! So unless you buy something from a “business”, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small “business”, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you. … They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the “other” side of the bucket! That’s their idea of tax reform…”


Here comes Joe. It’s amazing to think that Joe Lieberman was actually on the Democratic ticket in 2000 — and now here he is doing his best to elect the other side.

“I’m here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.”

“Both presidential candidates this year have talked about changing the culture of Washington, about breaking through the partisan gridlock and special interests that are poisoning our politics. But my friends, only one of them has actually done it.”

[At this point, it’s interesting to watch the Republican faithful applaud the fact that McCain has often broken with Republicans. The things Lieberman is talking about — immigration reform, campaign finance reform, global warming, etc. — are things that almost cost McCain the nomination.]

“Trust me, God only made one John McCain and he is his own man…”

[Now they are applauding the implied message that McCain is not Bush.]

“…If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or actually do something about global warming… but he did.” [more applause.]

“If John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I’m Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat.” [Laughter and applause.]

Lieberman doesn’t just promote his friend McCain – he goes on attack against Obama:
“Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.”

“In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party to get something one.”

“I just ask you to contrast that to John McCain’s record, or let me … contrast Barack Obama’s record to the record of the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, who stood up to some of those same Democratic interest groups and worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements, and a balanced budget.”

Lieberman openly appeals to Democrats:
“I know many of you are angry and frustrated by our government and our politics and for good reason. …  Some of you have never voted for a Republican before and in an ordinary election, you probably wouldn’t.”

“But this is no ordinary election, because these are not ordinary times, and John McCain is no ordinary candidate. …  As President, you can count on John McCain to be a restless reformer, who will clean up Washington and get our government working again for you!”
“Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. The truth is she is the leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.”

Again he’s crediting McCain for being right about the surge in Iraq, and saying that because he was right thousands of troops are coming home.

“John McCain will be a president our allies will trust and our enemies will fear.”

Now Lieberman is calling for national unity and openly appeals to Democrats:
“I know many of you are angry and frustrated by our government and our politics today and for good reason. …  Some of you have never voted for a Republican before and frankly in an ordinary election, you probably wouldn’t.”

“But I want you to believe with me that this is no ordinary election, because these are not ordinary times, and trust me John McCain is no ordinary candidate. …  As President, you can count on John McCain to be what he is naturally — a restless reformer, who will clean up Washington and get our government working again for all of the American people!”