Republicans Hail McCain, Assail Obama

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republicans assailed Barack Obama as the
most liberal, least experienced White House nominee in history
Tuesday night as President Bush led a convention chorus of praise
for GOP candidate John McCain. Delegates rallied behind vice
presidential running mate Sarah Palin in the face of fresh
controversy.
"God only made one John McCain, and he is his own man,"
declared Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic presidential
nominee, awarded a prime-time turn at the Republicans' convention
podium.
The convention hall resounded with boos when Lieberman said the
Democratic presidential candidate voted to cut off funding "for
our troops on the ground" in Iraq last year.
And again when former Sen. Fred Thompson scoffed at the
47-year-old Illinois senator, who is seeking to become the first
black president.
"Democrats present a history-making nominee for president.
History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced
nominee ever to run for president," Thompson said as delegates
roared their agreement.
Thompson and Lieberman both cast Palin as a political maverick
in the McCain mold.
The Republican nominee-in-waiting campaigned in Pennsylvania and
Ohio during the day, slowly making his way toward the convention
city where the 72-year-old Arizona senator will deliver his formal
acceptance speech on Thursday night.
Hundreds of miles to the west, in St. Paul, about two dozen men
who were Vietnam prisoners with him a generation ago sparked chants
of "USA, USA" when they were introduced to the delegates.
Bush, an unpopular president relegated to a minor role at the
convention, reprised the national security themes that propelled
him to a second term as he spoke - briefly, by satellite from the
White House. "We need a president who understands the lessons of
Sept. 11, 2001," he said. "That to protect America, we must stay
on offense, stop attacks before they happen and not wait to be hit
again. The man we need is John McCain."
Thompson delivered a strong defense of Palin. He said the Alaska
governor, was "from a small town, with small town values, but
that's not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and
her family."
He said McCain's decision to place her on the ticket "has the
other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic."
Other Republicans - delegates and luminaries alike - also
defended Palin, who disclosed on Monday that her 17-year-old
unmarried daughter is pregnant. In addition, a lawyer has been
hired to represent the governor in an ethics-related controversy
back home in Alaska.
Conservatives, slow to warm to McCain even after he clinched the
nomination last spring, were particularly supportive.
"I haven't seen anything that comes out about her that in any
way troubles me or shakes my confidence in her," said former
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran unsuccessfully for the party's
presidential nomination this year.
"All it has done for me is say she is a human person with a
real family."
And Ron Nehring, chairman of the California state party, said
video footage of Palin on a firing range was helping her cause.
"The reports I'm getting back is that every time they show that
footage we get 1,000 precinct walkers from the NRA," he told
members of his state's delegation, to laughter. "She cuts taxes
and shoots moose. That's Gov. Palin," Nehring said.
Thompson jabbed at Obama on abortion, as well.
"We need a president who doesn't think that the protection of
the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade," he said
in prepared remarks, referring to a recent episode in which
McCain's White House rival said it was "above my pay grade" to
decide the point at which an unborn child is entitled to rights.
There were indications that Republicans thought they could turn
Palin-related controversy to McCain's gain. Officials said Levi
Johnston, the 18-year-old father of the baby Bristol Palin is
expecting, was en route to the convention from his home in Wasilla,
Alaska.
McCain's wife, Cindy, took in the evening program from a VIP
box. So, too, former President George H.W. Bush, accompanied by his
wife Barbara.
Bush scrapped a planned Monday night speech because of the
threat Hurricane Gustav posed to New Orleans. With polls making it
clear the nation is ready for a change, the McCain campaign
indicated there was no reason for him to make the trip to St. Paul.
The president referred to the years of torture McCain endured as
a prisoner of war. Then Bush added, "If the Hanoi Hilton could not
break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you
can be sure the angry left never will."
"As president he will stand up to the high tax crowd in
Congress ... and lift the ban for drilling on America's offshore
oil," Bush added.
As for Palin, despite Thompson's remarks - and McCain's
declaration that he was satisfied with the scrutiny his aides had
given the governor before her selection- there were fresh
disclosures.
Among them: that both as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and as
governor, she had sought earmarks for local projects. Her most
recent round of requests totaled $300 for every Alaskan. McCain has
frequently vowed to veto any earmark legislation, and has said she
will be a force in his battle to wipe them out.
Additionally, the lawyer hired to defend Palin in an ethics
investigation said he also is representing her personally and is
permitted to bill the state up to $95,000 for work in the current
case. The issue involves the dismissal of public safety
commissioner Walt Monegan after he refused to fire a state trooper
who had divorced the governor's sister.
Republicans handed Lieberman the prime spot in the evening
lineup, and he blended praise for McCain with criticism of Obama.
"When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of
battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our
troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against
the tide of public opinion," the Connecticut
Democratic-turned-independent senator said in excerpts released in
advance of his speech.
The decision to place Lieberman out front on the convention's
second night capped an unprecedented political migration. Only
eight years ago, he stood before a cheering throng at the
Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and accepted the
nomination as Al Gore's running mate.
In the years since, he lost badly in 2004 when he sought the
Democratic presidential nomination, lost a Democratic nomination
for a new term at home in Connecticut in 2006, then recovered
quickly to win re-election as an independent.
Back in the Senate, his vote allows the Democrats to command a
narrow majority, yet he has been one of the most outspoken
supporters of the war in Iraq. He has traveled widely with McCain
in recent months, and occasionally has angered Democrats with
remarks critical of Obama.
---
Associated Press writers Beth Fouhy in Philadelphia and Scott
Bauer and Martiga Lohn in St. Paul contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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