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General Election Campaign Begins!

McCain accepts nomination as Republican presidential candidate

By Michael Geheren | null null , null
Republican Presidential Nominee Senator John McCain and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin celebrate at the end of the last day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 4, 2008. Behind them are Palin's husband Todd, holding their son Trig, McCain's wife Cindy and other members of their families. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg)
Republican Presidential Nominee Senator John McCain and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin celebrate at the end of the last day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 4, 2008. Behind them are Palin's husband Todd, holding their son Trig, McCain's wife Cindy and other members of their families. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg)

As the balloons fell, the delegates cheered, the press typed and talked, and the music blasted, Senator John McCain of Arizona officially became the nominee for President for the Republican Party. He accepted the nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Thursday.
 
"[John McCain] is a man of judgment and character, a loving and true husband and a magnificent father," said Cindy McCain, who introduced her husband.
 
As President, John McCain says that he will reach out his hand to get the country "moving" again, she said. "He claims that he has a record and the scars that Barack Obama does not." A week ago, Obama accepted the nomination for the Democrats at that party's convention in Denver, Colorado.
 
The theme of the 2008 Republican National Convention was Country First. The dozens of speeches and videos all aimed to show the commitment the McCains have made and the actions they have taken to help the United States.
 
"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's," McCain said. "I loved it not just for it's many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for."
 
A Different Night
 
The floor of the Xcel Energy Center was transformed overnight in preparation for McCain's speech. The stage was extended to accommodate a town-hall-type speech, a format with which McCain is comfortable. Delegate chairs were rearranged, moving many of them off the floor and into the stands. The positioning in the stands of delegates from swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan remained front and center.
 

Kid Reporter Michael Geheren with Republican Delegate
Scholastic Kid Reporter Michael Geheren talks to high school senior Jen Carter about her support of Republican presidential candidate John McCain at the RNC on Thursday, September 4, 2008, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo: Janey Ranlett)

Also different, a few hecklers made it into the hall Thursday night, disrupting the beginning of McCain's speech. One displayed a sign that said "McCain Votes Against Vets." Two other protesters were against the war in Iraq. The opposing voices were quickly shouted down with chants of "USA! USA!" by the crowd of about 25,000.
 
Delegates seemed unfazed.
 
"It's participatory democracy," said high school senior Jen Carter from Chicago, Illinois. "You gotta love it!"
 
"No one was going to stop the McCain Express tonight," said Jim Castro-Blanco, a delegate from Yonkers, New York. "Everyone in the building was loving him, loving Palin, loving Cindy. It was phenomenal."
 
The Message
 
In his speech, McCain emphasized his reputation as a maverick. He promised to fight for Americans at home and abroad on economic and foreign policy issues. He also promised to cut some taxes, and ran through a list of things he would do differently from his opponent.
 
He never mentioned President George W. Bush, and he spent very little time on Obama. He emphasized his service to his country as a military man and prisoner of war. He got his biggest cheers when he spoke of his love for the United States, especially at the end of his speech when he called on everyone to get involved.
 
"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one," he said. "If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier, because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."
 
As the more than 100,000 red, white, and blue balloons began to drop on the cheering crowds below, McCain and Palin took the stage with their families.
 
While delegates were still dancing in the aisles celebrating the nomination, the candidates got on an airplane and headed for Wisconsin and Michigan. They will hold joint appearances in both swing states as the general election officially gets under way.

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ELECTION 2008

Scholastic Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail. Keep up with the latest election news in this special report.

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Michael Geheren is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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