"It's a great day to be a Republican. It's a great day to be a woman." Those were the sentences spoken by the head of the Alaskan delegation as the name of the state's governor, Sarah Palin's, name was placed onto the party's presidential ticket.
Last night brought the last night of convention business for the Republicans meeting in St. Paul. Senator John McCain formally accepted his party's nomination as its candidate for President. His speech was moving and made me very proud to be a supporter.
Leading up to McCain's speech were several speakers with strong speeches. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, from the 7th district which includes Memphis, was energizing in her speech. She spoke of her pride in the nomination of Sarah Palin and honoring the 88th anniversary of womens right to vote. She spoke to Gov. Palin's strengths - all the attributes that have the opposition running scared with the media and party smears. It is a show of strength and character that Sen. McCain made such a choice. "It's about damn time", said Blackburn.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a strong contender for the VP nod, spoke about McCain's grasp of everyday issues. Of McCain's strong leadership in the Senate, standing up to even his own political party to do the right thing for the American people. The nominees picked by the other party have no such record of putting American people over party loyalty. Pawlenty is credited with the term "Sam's Club Republicans" and it speaks to the ordinary working class voters for whom the Democrats have taken for granted for far too long. They are the Reagan Democrats and they are liking what they see in the McCain/Palin ticket.
The latest viewership numbers show that 40 million people tuned in to watch Gov. Palin's acceptance speech Wednesday night. The number of those watching Senator Biden the week before? 24 million. The voters already know what they get with the 6 term Senator from Delaware. No change there. No reform there. Same old liberal boilerplate. The last numbers show that 37 million tuned in for Obama's speech. While the setting was up to his self aggrandizing personality, the people piled into the sports stadium as grand events are what Obama is most comfortable with, the speech was mostly thought to be standard liberal fare. Big government programs, raising taxes, no real solutions.
Obama was criticized by pundits for not offering policy solutions to the big problems. That is now the charge of his campaign to the McCain campaign this week. The difference is that the Republicans were talking about policies - lowering taxes, school choice, strong national security, medical insurance choice with the help of the free market and tax credits, the continued need for public service of all of our citizens. Those are just not the solutions Obama wants to hear.
Former Tennessee Senator and Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, introduced Cindy McCain. He has traveled with her on overseas trips promoting what he calls 'medical diplomacy'. This form of diplomacy is a long term investment in national security and promotes the best of America to the world. He acknowledged President Bush's administration for the largest ever commitment to African countries for medical assistance. "Health is a currency for peace."
A video biography was presented about the life of Cindy McCain. She has a remarkable story in her own right. The daughter of a WWII fighter pilot who was shot down in battle, she grew up in Arizona camping with her dad, enjoying the outdoors. She, like John McCain, are strong proponents for environmental conservation. Her father saved and put together the initial investment of $10,000 to bring in an Anheuser-Busch distributorship to Arizona and the business grew from there to what it is today. Cindy now is the CEO of the business and John McCain's son, Andy, is the Comptroller. Cindy has, from her college days on, traveled whenever possible to help others in parts of the world in dire straits. She walks the walk.
Cindy McCain brought on stage all 7 of the McCain children. John McCain adopted his first wife's two sons and together they had a daughter, Sidney. His son Doug is a commercial pilot, Andy works in Cindy's business, and Sidney is a successful music businesswoman in Canada. The four children from John and Cindy's marriage were there - Meghan, who travels with the campaign and blogs with video about it; Jack and Jimmy both in military service; and Bridget, the daughter Cindy brought home from Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. A truly American family story all around.
Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) gave a speech addressing the military directly. It was a strong and rousing speech summarizing John McCain's support of the military and the trips the two of them have taken to Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia and to other hot spots. Graham spoke of the courage of Sen. Joe Lieberman to stand firm against the Democrat party's demand of defeat in Iraq. Lieberman, too, puts country first. Graham is a Lt. Col in the National Guard Reserves and a JAG.
The video of John McCain's life story was shown. There is no match in politics today. And then McCain came out on stage.
The stage was changed from the standard type - a runway style addition was added for him to walk out into the crowd, as is his most comfortable style. He was right in the middle of the Ohio delegation. The contrast of this setting to the Hollywood version presented the week before by the other party's candidate was striking. John McCain is a humble man. It's not all about him. That much is clear.
The best line of the speech for me was, "Education is the civil rights issue of our time." I completely support this statement. The teachers union, who have Obama firmly in their pocket, have ruined our public educational system. McCain, the true reformer, is in support of school choice and charter schools - both ideas which are clearly showing positive results in the communities in which they have been implemented. These ideas are the hope of the future. Obama wants his children to have the benefit of private school education but no choice for families of lesser financial means. I'm hoping for a different kind of change.
McCain's speech ended with vigor and passion. "Fight for what's right for our country. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history."
A cause greater than our own self interests. It's a great day to be a Republican. It's a great day to be an American.