Following the segment from the President, former GOP primary contender Fred Thompson gave a rousing and folksy speech. He also described John McCain’s service in Vietnam and the inflicted brutality at the hands of McCain’s POW jailers during that war. You could hear a pin drop in the arena if it weren’t for the industrial sized ventilation system whirring in the background. Thompson linked McCain’s service to country with those that serve today and noted the senator’s “maverick” streak describing a record of troublemaking that extended from the military academy through going after crooked Democrat and Republican lobbyists alike and abusive corporations that exploited Americans. Thompson also took time to defend the honour of presumptive GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin and the attacks concerning her family among the left-wing netroots activists. This elicited some of the loudest cheers during the former senator’s speech. The pregnancy of Palin’s 17-year old unwed daughter became a tempting focal point for some Obama supporters, but the junior senator from Illinois made it explicit that any staffer on his campaign would be immediately fired if they pursued Palin on this front. Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden echoed this sentiment yesterday declaring family “off-limits”. Perhaps the loudest cheers during the speech interestingly came when Thompson declared that McCain would be a champion for pro-life advocates.
Up next was Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman who gave his endorsement for the McCain-Palin ticket before the Republican crowd. Applause was moderate and polite for most of his speech which had a strong emphasis on McCain’s record of reaching across the aisle to cooperate on legislative initiatives with Democrats. Perhaps the most damning among the remarks from the former VP-half of the the Gore for President 2000 Democratic ticket was his warning of Barack Obama saying that “eloquence is not substitute for a record” and that through Senator Obama’s 3 year Senate record, he has not reached across the aisle once to work with Republicans. Lieberman’s speech was intended to serve as a credible testimonial to McCain’s “maverick” status and ability to reach out to independents and Democrats. Interestingly, as this day’s theme was “reform”, Lieberman underscored this point by saying that McCain’s independent streak and Palin’s record of reform would allow their administration to clean up Washington. This has been a strong theme among both campaigns.
The wifi access in the Xcel Center has been non-existent, so blogging updates may come via Blackberry from now on.