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White House Showdown Now Looms

McCain Convention.jpg

(St. Paul, Minnesota)

The lines are drawn and could not be clearer. John McCain: wise, old, tough, survivor versus Barack Obama: smart, young, glib, survivor. Two very different men, from very different times, facing the same American problems. Who to choose?

McCain made his case tonight in a less splashy, but no less boisterous display as Obama’s last week. McCain is not the orator that Obama is; but McCain’s tale is so gut wrenching, it needs no fancy story teller. As they saying goes,“It is, what it is.” And it is chillingly compelling.

The Arizona Senator is a maverick, often at odds with his own Republican Party. He is as honest and impassioned as the day is long about wasteful spending and self-serving government. And he’s undyingly humble and sincere. “I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for me. I work for you,” McCain said.

Unlike his Vice-presidential running mate Sarah Plain, McCain did not bash Barack Obama (probably the classic “good cop-bad cop” running mate strategy we’ve seen time and again). In fact, McCain complimented Obama on the historic and inspiring nature of the campaign. Still, he also took a gentle jab on some key issues. “I will leave taxes low, and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them,” said McCain as the audience howled.

And if there is one unmistakably clear difference between Democrats and Republicans, it’s on energy issues: “We will drill new wells off shore and we will drill in Alasaka. We’ll build more nuclear power plants,” he said defiantely, echoing Palin’s promise from Wednesday night.

Of course all of this is small potatoes compared to the center piece of McCain’s story and character development. That is, his five and one-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. It’s one of the most horrible stories I have ever heard in my life, yet I never get tired of hearing it. I suspect many voters feel the same way. It is simply beyond human comprehension that he survived the beatings, torture and mental anguish. But he did.

McCain was beaten mercilessly, and when the Vietnamese found out his dad was leading Admiral, they offered him early release as a propaganda ploy. McCain refused, since the military honor code says prisoners should be released by “seniority”; by the length of their incarceration. “I turned it down. A lot of prisonoers had it much worse than I did,” McCain said. The enemy was infuriated by his refusal to go home free, and they beat and tortured him even worse.

Fast forward forty years, and it is this story that is the cornerstone of support among McCain backers. “I wept all through his speech,” said Bonnie Triplett of Kentucky. “He’s everything our country’s been needing and what we’ve been praying for,” she added.

The horrid experience, made McCain well prepared to be Commander-in-Chief, said Charla Farnum of Brooklyn, Iowa. “We know he has courage,” said Farnum, “We know he is able to make the difficult decisions. He’s the kind of man we want to lead our country.”

Because of his prisoner status, he has the backbone to lead according to one voter. Dr. Prasanta Chandra of New Jersey said, “He has sympathy for ordinary people, because he suffered at the hands of evil people,” Chandra said. “He (McCain) is very sincere. He says what he means; and he means what he says. He’s a man of conviction.”

That conviction led him to make one of his classic moves, picking the unknown Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be his running mate. Truth be told, whenever her name was mentioned tonight, she received more applause that McCain. “The press and Democrats will pick on her,” said John Triplett of Kentucky, “And she’ll run right over them!” That sounds just like the kind of person McCain wants. “I can’t wait to introduce her to Washington,” said McCain, and the building shook with laughter

McCain chocked back tears when he recounted his POW experience tonight and how his fellow prisoners urged him to survive, something he finally admitted he could not do alone. “I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country's,” McCain said.

Well know in November, if that distinguished service will continue as President.

I have plenty more convention blogs and videos coming. Keep it at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis With Presidential Strategies for Both Parties

(St. Paul, Minnesota)

Once the conventions are over, Democrats and Republicans will have to decide in which key battleground states they will compete.

Mark Curtis looks at states critical to Democrats and Republicans while visiting the floor of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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