Republicans put their convention back on
track Tuesday in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a televised satellite address from
U.S. President George Bush, and speakers who praised the character of Republican
nominee-to-be John McCain, while sharply attacking Democrats. At the same time,
controversy about McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his
running mate continues to grab headlines, as Republicans rallied behind her and
prepared to formally nominate their candidates on Wednesday and Thursday. VOA's
Dan Robinson reports.
President Bush used a 10 minute
satellite address from the White House to praise Senator McCain, citing his
defense of the military surge in Iraq, and describing him as someone who will
protect Americans from further terrorist attacks:
"We live in a
dangerous world. And we need a president who understands the lessons of
September 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop
attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is
John McCain," he said.
Tuesday's speakers brought a change in
atmosphere, as Republicans escalated criticisms of Democrats and McCain's
Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama.
Senator Joe Lieberman, now an
Independent who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2000
presidential race, said he was appearing in support of McCain because, as he put
it, "country matters more than party."
Lieberman has drawn criticism from Democrats
in Congress for his strong support of Senator McCain and President Bush's Iraq
policies, and had this sharp criticism of Democratic presidential nominee
"When others were silent about the war in Iraq, John McCain had
the guts and the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making
in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, which
would have been a disaster for the U.S.A.," said Lieberman. "When colleagues
like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the
battlefield, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public
opinion, advocate the surge, support the surge and because of that, today
America's troops are coming home, thousands of them, and they're coming home in
John Boehner, Republican minority leader in the House of
Representatives, accused House and Senate majority Democratic leaders of doing
little to solve American's energy and other problems. Representative Michele
Bachmann sounded a traditional Republican theme of less government:
BOEHNER: Washington today is broken and the Democratic Congress is
its most visible symbol.
BACHMANN: Government is not a philanthropic
organization. Government is not the family. And government certainly is not the
Fred Thompson, former senator and television actor who ran an
unsuccessful campaign for the presidency, sought to emphasize McCain's
credentials as a maverick who does what he thinks is right, regardless of what
"He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003. He went seeking
truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the
troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives. And the same character
that marked John McCain's military career has also marked his political career.
This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is
politically safe or popular," he said.
While Republicans want to turn
the focus of news headlines back to the main work of their convention, formally
nominating McCain as their presidential candidate, he and his advisors are still
battling questions about how thoroughly they examined Sarah Palin's background
before choosing her as a running mate.
Chosen for her social
conservatism and anti-abortion stance among other things, she revealed this week
that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, a fact Senator McCain says
he knew. She is also the subject of an investigation in Alaska involving firing
of a state official.
McCain advisors insist she was thoroughly vetted,
and have provided journalists with details of the process. But media
organizations quoted unidentified Republican party sources as saying Palin was
not seriously considered until a week or so before McCain announced the
McCain was pressed again on the issue during a campaign
appearance in Cleveland, Ohio. "My vetting process was completely thorough and I
am grateful for the results," he said.
McCain's Democratic rival, Barack
Obama, says family matters should remain personal and not be mixed with
politics, a view shared by Obama'S running mate, Senator Joe Biden. "I have a
simple proposition. Children are off limits. Children are off limits."
Senator McCain has predicted that Palin's appearance at the Republican
convention on Wednesday to accept the vice presidential nomination will help
excite Americans about her candidacy. Republican delegates and others attending
the convention expressed continued support for her and applauded McCain's