BlackBerry Blogging from Inside the Convention Hall
ST. PAUL -- 12:04 a.m. The VP plane has already been painted: McCain - Palin.
--Michael D. Shear
11:30 p.m. There were several types of confetti, but the best were the round ones that said "Republican National Convention" on one side and had a stern-looking John McCain head photo on the other. That's keepsake, baby.
11:30 p.m. A complete transcript of McCain's remarks is available here.
11:25 p.m. After watching McCain deliver his speech, McCain wordsmith Mark Salter was in full sprint underneath the grandstands - the Straight Talk Express is moving out now for campaign stops.
"I thought it went great, thanks," Salter said, stopping for those brief words. "I gotta run."
With that Salter was off in full sprint -- on into the general election.
11:22 p.m. If voters needed a sign of how John McCain's presidential campaign was shifting course, they got in the the songs that blared from speakers in the wake of McCain's acceptance speech.
Joe Rich's "Raising McCain" started the set, but it was Heart's 1977 hit "Barracuda" that revved up the crowd. The choice alludes to GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's high-school nickname on the basketball court, "Sarah Barracuda."
Most of the tunes were the kind one hears at a usual wedding reception, including Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate" and Earth, Wind and Fire's "Celebrate."
But one song has apparently disappeared from McCain's song list: ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me."
11:18 p.m. Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) noted the subdued tone of the speech at times, calling it "a very personalized speech about his American journey."
"It was essentially a personal testimony ... of torture and redemption," Putnam, the No. 3 House GOP leader, said while swatting balloons. "I thought the close was very powerful -- a call to arms," he said.
11:14 p.m. An observer back in D.C. notes that, perhaps in honor of Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, the song playing during the balloon and confetti drop is Heart's 1977 anthem, "Barracuda."
11:14 p.m. Yep. First, the red-white-and blue confetti floated down from the ceiling, then the small balloons (reds, whites, blues), followed by the big beach-ball balloons that were batted around the arena by partying delegates. Then came shooting streamers. And more balloon drops. And soon balloons were popping like popcorn. Many convention delegates took off their shoes, stood up in their shoes and jammed to Earth, Wind and Fire. "We"re having a big party," said Georgia delegate Tony Robbins, a 66-year-old small businessman who was swaying his hips. "Now and then, you gotta let the badger out."
11:07 p.m. Confetti drops. No balloons yet.
There they go. We've got the balloons!
11:04 p.m. A campaign-issued sign reads "G.I. John/Superwoman." A North Carolina delegate is wearing a pin that reads "We've Struck Oil With Sarah Palin."
10:49 p.m.Evidence that our long, seemingly never ending convention season is about to end: The McCain and Palin families are on the move, headed to join the senator on stage.
Random strangers have been shuffled into their posh seats.
And so two straight weeks of nonstop conventioneering are almost over.
10:47 p.m. McCain's line that we're going to stop sending 700 billion to countries that don't like us very much got huge applause. Did they know he was talking about oil, not foreign aid?
10:41 p.m. For more on McCain's speech, read "McCain Vows to End Partisan Rancor in Convention Speech", by Chris Cillizza.
10:34 p.m. McCain just referenced Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who was sentenced today to four years in prison, with this line: "I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes."
10:28 p.m. More signs: "Thank You, McCain: Mom of 3 Says Palin is My Hero"
"Change We Can Trust"
"Irish 4 McCain" (New York delegation)
10:27 p.m. Two women sitting beneath the press seats attempted to unfurl a pink banner. They screamed, "Get out of Iraq," before people next to them snatched the sign and started to wrestle them out of the hall. This led to a noticeable disruption of the speech. --Matthew Mosk UPDATE: Two antiwar protesters came down aisle 118 with homemade pink cloth signs. "End the war in Iraq," yelled one, holding up the two-fingered peace sign. The signs were snatched by one man and a scuffle ensued. As one of the protestors continued toward the floor, getting within a few feet of it, she was stopped by two men. One grabbed the credential strap around her neck. The protesters were escorted out, with one McCain supporter yelling: "Sit down you Nazi!" --Kevin Merida
10:25 p.m. Multiple screaming protesters were just taken out up the aisle behind the stage and next to the press risers. The audience drowned their shouts with chants of "USA!"
10:22 p.m. McCain campaign staffers have forced those standing in some aisles to crouch down, unless the crowd stands to applaud.
10:22 p.m. The first image behind McCain as he gave his speech was of a grass courtyard leading up to a schoolhouse.
Look closely, it's Walter Reed Junior High School.
10:22 p.m. An usher snatched another man's homemade sign, which read, "No More War." He quickly folded it up and slipped it into a small backpack.
"Got one," the usher said.
10:21 p.m. The handmade sign referencing terrorists, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama was taken away forcefully by a convention official wearing a red McCain campaign hat.
"How pathetic" a delegate said in disgust, commenting on the nervous nature of the staffers.
10:18 p.m. McCain just thanked "the President of the United States for leading us in these dark days." That seems to be the first reference to President Bush of the night.
10:18 p.m. Watching PBS back in D.C., the station just flashed to a guy holding a banner that said "McCain Votes Against Vets."
10:18 p.m. Just as they did in Madison Square Garden in 2004, Republican delegates have begun chanting "USA" at the slightest hint of antiwar hecklers, several of whom are in the arena. This drowns out the antiwar hecklers, but breaks up McCain's delivery.
10:14 p.m. A North Carolina delegate is waving a hand made sign that reads, "Terrorists: Beware of Sarah (Ask Obama)"
10:12 p.m. The McCain bio video includes almost no reference to his Senate record and none of his signature campaign finance legislation.
10:06 p.m. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said this is his seventh convention, "and I've never seen people so happy. They're giddy!" he said.
10: 05 p.m. First laugh-line of the video: "Some called him hotheaded; some call him names that can't be repeated."
10:03 p.m. McCain's bio film begins running. GOP activists on the floor check their 'Berries for the obvious news: The Redskins have lost, but done so nicely, allowing the networks to show the film and speech.
"16-7," one strategist murmurs to another.
10:03 p.m. The whole McCain family is now in their box. Yes, the WHOLE family, for those concerned about the lack of attention their youngest daughter, Bridget, has received.
10 p.m. Official signage: A mix of the following.
"We Love Cindy!"
9:59 p.m. Ever wonder how those cheers get started on the convention floor?
Well nothing was left to chance tonight. As Cindy McCain spoke, a volunteer in a red McCain baseball cap whispered to the Georgia delegation: "At the conclusion of this, it will be 'Cindy! Cindy! Cindy!'"
The delegation complied, if only half heartedly.
The volunteer was back a few moments later with more advice: "The Secret Service has identified hecklers behind the family box," he said. "If they start up, we're gonna drown them out."
"You bet," replied former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, seated with his delegation.
9:59 p.m. Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the representative of the International Chabad Lubavitch movement and on on darling of Washington conservatives, wandered onto the floor just as Cindi McCain finished up.
9:59 p.m. Hundreds of cowboy hats are swaying in unison to "Johnny B Good." Cindy McCain finished 4 minutes early, so they're stalling until the start of the video.
9:57 p.m. The song "Johnny B Good" was used in a similar fashion by Democrats on the Thursday night of their 2004 convention.
9:57 p.m. Note: Media strategist Mark McKinnon helped Cindy McCain with her just-concluded speech. A favor, he said earlier in the day. McKinnon, after helping John McCain win the GOP nomination, said he did not want to campaign against Barack Obama and would play no formal role in the fall campaign.
9:54 p.m. As the potential next First Lady spoke, Henry Kissinger shut his eyes and appeared to doze off while sitting in the prominent box that includes the Palins and Roberta McCain.
9:49 p.m. Count Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) as a fan of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) -- but also as someone who thinks the vice-presidential debate could be fascinating.
"I don't know if he knows how to handle the debate situation he's going to be in," said Castle, an across-the-aisle friend of Biden's for 40 years, while walking the convention floor.
Castle said he expects Biden to rein in his usually tough minded debating technique for fear of looking like an overly aggressive man going after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
But Castle, part of a vanishing breed of northeastern Republicans, said Palin's self-proclaimed "pit bull" persona might bring out Biden's sharper edges, leading some to sharp exchanges.
"Halfway into it, it might get really interesting," Castle said.
8:44 p.m. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove is being mobbed near the makeshift FOX studios on the floor during Cindy McCain's speech.
9:48 p.m. As Cindy McCain was speaking, former Speaker Newt Gingrich came onto the floor near the Alabama delegation. Still a rock star among delegates, Gingrich was immediately surrounded by photo seekers.
9:45 p.m. Cindy McCain's line: "How 'bout that Sarah Palin?" drew her best applause so far.
strong>9:13 p.m. Gov. Sarah Palin met this afternoon with the Alaska delegation at a Hilton hotel room, where she posed for pictures and chatted individually with her fellow Alaskans.
"I feel like I'm back home," Palin said, according to one participant now in the convention hall. The Rev. Jerry Prevo, pastor of Anchorage Baptist Temple and a state evangelical leader, said Palin asked the delegation to pray for her. She was accompanied to the Hilton by her husband, Todd.
At one point, Prevo handed the governor his cell phone. It was the Rev. Franklin Graham on the line wanting to congratulate her. The son of the Rev. Billy Graham has been the speaker for the governor's prayer breakfast the past two years.
Delegate Kim Skipper, a state legislative aide, said delegates were ecstatic and let Palin know how proud the were of her. "It may be the last time we get that close to her for a while."
9:01 p.m. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke earlier this evening. Here's the transcript of his remarks.
9:00 p.m. After Joe Gibbs finished his speech (click here to watch excerpts), the convention speakers blared the song "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. Key line -- " Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today." The song seems appropriate for the legendary retired Redskins coach, except for the fact that it's about baseball.
8:44 p.m. A podium and two teleprompters have been placed at the front of the catwalk and can be raised from beneath the stage.
8:38 p.m. There are 50 red chairs placed around the newly-constructed catwalk where John McCain is expected to sit tonight.
The seats are currently occupied by VFW members, young excited-looking McCain campaign and convention staffers and some invited guests wearing special blue passes around their necks that read "Presidential Nominee Acceptance Speech."
Three seat fillers who appear to be staffers turned away and ignored queries by a reporter, one smiling when asked if they were instructed not to answer questions.
Pennsylvania delegates are waving yellow "Pennsylvania for McCain" rally towels that also say, "We're Not 'Bitter.'"
8:38 p.m. For those looking for divine inspiration from tonight's NFL season premier -- or just another reason to watch the game instead of the proceedings -- in the last four presidential campaigns, if the Skins win their season opener, the Republicans win the White House. If they lose the opener, the Democrats win. To the numbers:
'08 -- Undecided
'04 -- Washington 16, Tampa Bay 10 (Clinton Portis, 148 yards rushing). BUSH wins
'00 -- Washington 20, Carolina 17 (Stephen Davis ran for 133 yards). BUSH wins
'96 -- Philadelphia 17, Washington 14 (Eagles QB Rodney Peete lights up the Skins D for 269 yards passing) CLINTON wins
'92 -- Dallas 23, Washington 20 (Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith pounds Skins D for 140 yards rushing) CLINTON wins
With the Skins trailing New York 16-7 in the 2nd quarter, this could be an Obama omen.
However, the last time the team opened their season with the Giants in a presidential year -- 1988 -- the Skins lost 27-20, despite 288 yards passing by Doug Williams. And Bush won that year.
8:19 p.m. Henry Kissinger is sitting in the VIP box off the floor, near Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.
8:11 p.m. Joe Gibbs's money quote: "By supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, I am confident that we are choosing the right game plan for America!
"I believe that electing John McCain and Sarah Palin will spark a return to God's Word and a spiritual revival that will bring our nation together. God bless you, and God bless America!"
Posted at 10:04 PM ET on Sep 4, 2008
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