The second day of the 2008 Republican National Convention was called to order by Permanent Convention Chair (and U.S. House Minority Leader) John Boehner of Ohio at 6:31 PM local time in Minnesota (7:31 PM Eastern Time US [2331 UTC]) on Tuesday 2 September 2008. The Presentation of Colors was by the Tri-City Color Guard, consisting of elements of the Red Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Post 513 of New Brighton, Minnesota. The National Anthem was sung by Philip Alongi of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Rev. Robert Certain of the Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Marietta, Georgia delivered the Invocation.
After this, a video tribute to Republican leaders and elected officials who had passed away since the previous GOP Convention was seen (the loudest cheers were for former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow)-- the last name on the list (which was otherwise alphabetical) was President Gerald R. Ford, Jr. which led into a video 'bio-pic' of the only unelected (not even as Vice President) President of the United States in American History.
The first speaker of the evening (of which the theme was that 'Service' theme that was supposed to have been the stuff of the previous day's session before Hurricane 'Gustav' intervened) was House Minority Leader John Boehner himself. If there was any doubt whatsoever that the assembled had taken off their "American hats" and had put their "Republican hats" back on, Boehner's rhetoric made it most clear.
I stood at a similar podium in 1992, at this Convention, as part of the 'Gang of Seven'- a group of legislators committed to reforming Congress after four decades of Democratic corruption and I stand before you tonight in that same spirit of reform. Republicans have come to St. Paul driven by our belief that the country should come before Politics and Government should serve the People- not the other way around. Under the leadership of Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, Republicans are returning to our roots as the Party of reform- the Party America needs us to be...
Washington today is broken, said Boehner, and the Democratic Congress is its most visible symbol... The People sent a message in 2006 that reminded us that they're in charge: Republicans listened to that message and we learned from it- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama ignored it!
The next item on the agenda was the official, panoramic Convention photograph-- as had been the case at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, those on the floor and at the podium had to face the camera at the back of the center of the hall and stand still for several minutes while the camera swept the scene.
JoAnn Davidson of Ohio, Republican National Committee co-chair and Chair of the Convention Committee on Arrangements, came forward to speak. Noting that the last Republican Convention held in Minnesota (in Minneapolis)- that of 1892- included the first women actually seated at a GOP Convention (they were alternates from Wyoming, which had already granted women the right to vote by then), as well as the first woman to address a Convention (she told the delegates to that long ago gathering: "We are here to help you-- and we are here to stay"), Ms. Davidson opined how appropriate it was that this Convention in Minnesota would be nominating the first woman on a GOP national ticket. Paraphrasing that long-ago female speaker, Davidson then declaimed We are here to stay and we are here to nominate John McCain, the next President of the United States!
Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a former Mayor of the host city- St. Paul, Minnesota- next played the role of official greeter. Noting that one of his predecessors as Mayor once said publicly "I'm not indecisive, am I?", Coleman then opined: That could be an Obama campaign slogan. The Senator assured the Convention that we will paint the entire Mississippi watershed McCain red and we will win the White House!
The winner of the 'Wave the Stars and Stripes' essay contest (the essays had to answer the question 'What does the American flag mean to you?')- which had been open to schoolchildren in the counties surrounding the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area- Victoria Blackstone of Roseville, Minnesota led the assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance after her essay was read aloud as part of a video montage with musical soundtrack. This was followed by former National Football League defensive back Miles McPherson, founder of the Miles Ahead Ministries, and then Ashley Gunn, founder of Students Aiding Indigent Families (SAIF).
After a musical interlude (during which Cindy McCain, wife of the presumptive presidential nominee, took her seat in the gallery), the next speaker was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota who, in a not too subtle dig at the Democratic presidential nominee, said Some presidential nominees know more about service than others... Government serves service best when it binds service the least... We must never forget what Government is not: Government is not a philanthropic organization... not the family and certainly not the church.... America needs John McCain's service in the White House.
Wes Gullett of Phoenix, Arizona next came to the podium with his adoptive teenage daughter. He recounted how Cindy McCain had rescued two baby girls from an orphanage run by Mother Teresa in Bangladesh-- one of the girls became the McCains' adopted daughter, while the other was Mr. Gullett's adopted daughter who had accompanied him to the podium.
There was now a video 'bio-pic' of President Theodore Roosevelt, which was followed by a live musical performance by Rachael Lampa, after which the next speaker was former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Keegan who reiterated the request for aid to those suffering as a result of Hurricane 'Gustav' which had been called for by First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain the day before; she was followed by Minneapolis Fire Dept. captain Shanna Hanson, continuing the theme of 'Service' by talking about her experiences dealing with the collapse of the I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River the previous Summer.
What followed was a video 'bio-pic' of President Abraham Lincoln, after which the next speaker was Tommy Espinoza, president of the Raza Development Fund- a Democrat from Phoenix, Arizona but also a personal friend of Senator McCain (as well as a godfather to one of the Senator's sons). Espinoza recounted that, when he first met the Senator (back when McCain was still a Congressman), Espinoza asked him what got him through his ordeal as a Prisoner of War: McCain's reply was "My faith in God, my country and my family". He's not just a public servant when the lights are on and the cameras are running, Espinoza assured the Convention, it's a way of life... John McCain believes in the sanctity of human life from conception, he believes in the sanctity of marriage and family life-- John McCain is the leader America needs: Viva John McCain! Viva America!
There was now a video 'bio-pic' of former President George H.W. Bush, after which came Bill Gross of Cleveland, North Dakota- a former UPS pilot of Boeing 747s and the founder of FarmRescue.
The next speaker was retired U.S. Army Captain Leslie Smith of Tappahannock, Virginia who had developed a rare blood disorder which left her blinded in one eye and required a leg to be amputated and who now was continuing the theme of 'Service'. Of her convalescence in Walter Reed Army Hospital, she noted: The most liberating day came when I stopped saying "Why me?" and started saying "Why not me?"
Now came a video 'bio-pic' of Petty Officer, 2d Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for, in Iraq, falling on a grenade that would otherwise have killed others in his unit besides himself. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle, a former Vietnam War POW came to the rostrum: first, he asked the assembled to acknowledge Petty Officer Monsoor's siblings in the gallery; he then asked that the Convention acknowledge the five Medal of Honor recipients present in the gallery and, then, the two dozen of Senator McCain's fellow POWs who were guests of the Convention. Finally, Colonel Swindle acknowledged the many veterans among the delegates, alternates and guests.
First Lady Laura Bush now came to the podium to give a speech introducing her husband, the incumbent President. The Republican Party has a very exciting ticket, the First Lady declaimed: a real American hero, John McCain, and a strong executive and proven reformer, Sarah Palin. I'm proud that America's first female Vice President will be a Republican woman.
The First Lady then offered what she called a little straight talk (playing on Senator McCain's campaign bus- the 'Straight Talk Express'), a litany of her husband's achievements. Let's not forget, Mrs. Bush stated emphatically: President Bush has kept the American People safe.
President George W. Bush next appeared via video feed from the East Room of the White House and, after a few words about the beginnings of the recovery from the adverse effects of Hurricane 'Gustav' in the Gulf States (the very reason he was not present in person at his own Party's Convention), the incumbent President said of John McCain that he was a great American and the next President of the United States... I know the hard choices that fall solely to a President: John McCain's life has prepared him to make those choices- he is ready to lead this Nation.
Of Senator McCain's incarceration in a North Vietnamese prison camp, President Bush said: When he was released, his arms had been broken- but not his honor... If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will... John is a leader who knows that human life is fragile, that human life is precious, that human life must be defended... he will stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress and make the tax relief permanent, he will invest in the energy technologies of tomorrow and lift the ban on drilling for America's offshore oil today.
John is an independent man, who thinks for himself- he's not afraid to tell you when he disagrees : believe me, I know! No matter what the issue, this man is honest and speaks straight from the heart... We live in a dangerous world and we need a President who understands the lessons of September the 11th, 2001: that, to protect America, we must stay on the offense... the man we need is John McCain...
When the debates have ended and all the ads have run and it is time to vote, Americans will look closely at the judgment, the experience and the policies of the candidates and they will cast their ballots for the McCain/Palin ticket.
The First Lady then returned to the podium and noted For the past eight years, I have seen the burdens of the Presidency up close: John McCain has what it takes to face the challenges ahead.
There now followed a video 'bio-pic' of President Ronald Reagan, after which the next speaker was former Senator and erstwhile 2008 presidential contender Fred Thompson of Tennessee.
At first acknowledging the importance of the work being done to help the Gulf States recover from the ravages of Hurricane 'Gustav', Thompson noted that what we're doing at this Convention is also important to our country, because we're going to nominate the next President and Vice-President of the United States of America! We do so while taking a different view of our country than that of the other Party: listening to them, you'd think that we're in the middle of a Great Depression- that we're down, disrespected, incapable of prevailing against challenges that face us. Now, we know we have challenges: always have, always will- but we also know we live in the freest, strongest, most generous and prosperous Nation in the History of the World and we're thankful for it!
Of the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, Thompson opined What a breath of fresh air Governor Sarah Palin is! She's from a small town with small town values- but, apparently, that's not good enough for some of the folks out there now who are attacking her and her family... and it's pretty clear that the selection of Governor Palin has got the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic- and no wonder: she's a courageous and successful reformer who's not afraid to take on the establishment- sound like anybody else we know? She has run a municipality and she has run a State and I think I can say without fear of contradiction that she's the only nominee in the history of either Party who knows how to properly field dress a moose- with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.
As for the presumptive presidential nominee, Thompson said: If you want to know who John McCain is- if you want to know what John McCain values- look at the men and women who wear America's uniform today. Recalling Senator McCain's long internment as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam Conflict, Thompson noted: We hear a lot of talk about Hope these days: John McCain knows about Hope-- that's all he had...John McCain's bones may have been broken, but his spirit never was.
Now being a POW doesn't qualify anyone to be President, but it does reveal character. My friends, this is the kind of character that Civilizations from the beginning of History have sought in their leaders: strength, courage, humility; wisdom, duty, honor. It's pretty clear there are two questions that we'll never have to ask ourselves: who is this man? and can we trust this man with the Presidency?...
This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or what is politically safe or popular: at a point in time when the war in Iraq was going badly and the public lost confidence, John McCain stood up and called for more troops- and now we're winning!... My friends, that is character you can believe in!... He led battle after battle to change the acrimonious, pork-barreling, self-serving ways of Washington.
Getting in a dig at Senator Obama, Thompson noted: Now the United States Senate has always had its share of smooth talkers- and big talkers- and, obviously, it still has. But, while others were talking reform, John McCain led efforts to make reform happen- always pressing, always working for what he believed was right and necessary to restore the People's faith in their government... a man who never quits is never defeated.
Because John McCain stood up, his country is better off: the respect he's given around the world is not because of a teleprompter speech designed to appeal to America's critics abroad- no, not that!: it's not because of that!- but because of decades of clearly demonstrated character and statesmanship. There has never been a time in our Nation's History, since we first pledged allegiance to the American flag, when the character, judgment and leadership of our President was more important... To deal with these challenges, the Democrats present a history-making nominee for President: history-making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for President! Apparently, they believe that he would match up well with the history-making Democrat-controlled Congress: history-making because it is the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our Nation's History!...
This is not reform and it's certainly not change: it is basically the same old stuff they've been peddling for years. America needs a President who understands the nature of the world we live in- a President who feels no need to apologize for the United States of America...
Now our opponents tell us not to worry about their tax increases... they say they're not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the other side of the bucket: that's their idea of tax reform! My friends, we need a leader who stands on principle: we need a President and a Vice President who will take the bureaucracy by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking... We need a President who doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay-grade. And the man who will be that President is John McCain!
Tonight our country is calling to all of us to step up and stand up and to put country first with John McCain. Tonight we are being called upon to do what is right for our country... tonight we are being called upon to step up and stand up with John, just as he has stood up for our country- our country is calling, our country is calling!
Now, John McCain can't raise his arms above his shoulders- he can't salute the flag of the country for which he has sacrificed the most. Tonight... we stand with him and we salute him: we salute his character and his courage, his spirit of independence and his drive for reform... For our own good, our children: let us celebrate that vision, celebrate that belief-that faith- that we can keep America the greatest country that the world has ever seen. God bless John McCain and God bless America!
There now followed a musical interlude- Chuck Berry's 1958 hit song Johnny B. Goode
The next speaker was Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an Independent Democrat who was the 2000 Democratic Party nominee for Vice President and who, because of his support for the war in Iraq (as well as, now, his overt support for Senator McCain's presidential candidacy), now is a pariah among Democrats (particularly those of a more liberal, anti-war bent).
Referring to that Hurricane 'Gustav' that so recently ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States and had its own effect on this very Convention, Senator Lieberman told the assembled: You know, the sad truth is that it should not take a hurricane to bring us together like this... when [Americans] look to Washington, all too often they don't see their leaders coming together to tackle these problems- instead, we see Democrats and Republicans fighting each other instead of fighting for the American People.
Referring to George Washington's Farewell Address, published 19 September 1796 (where the first President wrote- of what he called "the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally"- "[i]t exists in different shapes under all governments... but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy") : Today we are living through his worst nightmare in the Capital City that bears his name... I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than Party... John McCain is the best choice to bring our country together and lead America forward... Being a Democrat or a Republican is important but it is nowhere near as important as being an American. I think you know that both of the presidential candidates this year have talked about changing the culture of Washington, about breaking through the partisan gridlock and the special interests that are poisoning our Politics... only one of them has actually done it... and that one is John S. McCain...
Let me tell you, what you can expect from John McCain as President is precisely what he's done this week: put our country first! That's not a political posture by John- that's the code by which he has lived his entire life and that is the code he will carry with him into the White House next January.
God only made one John McCain, Lieberman opined, and he is his own man... as a matter of fact, friends: if John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I'm Michael Moore's favorite Democrat- and I think you know that I'm not! Senator Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who, I think, can do great things for our country in the years ahead but, my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record-- not in these tough times for America!
Of Senator McCain's running mate, Senator Lieberman said: Governor Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer... the truth is: she is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington. That's why I sincerely believe that the real ticket for change is the McCain/Palin ticket... the Washington bureaucrats and the power-brokers will not be able to build a tent that will hold in these two mavericks- it's just not possible.
When others were silent about the war in Iraq, Lieberman went on, 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 USA, when his 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... and, because of that today, American troops are coming home... and they're coming home in honor!...
John McCain will be a President our allies will trust and our enemies will fear, and that's the kind of President we need.
The Connecticut Senator then asked the indulgence of the Convention so as to address non-Republicans- Independents and Democrats- specifically: Some of you may never have voted for a Republican before and- frankly, in an ordinary election- you probably wouldn't: but I want you to believe with me that this is no ordinary election- and it's no ordinary election because these are not ordinary times and, trust me, John McCain is no ordinary candidate. You may not agree with John McCain on every issue- but you can always count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right for our country regardless of the politics...
So, tonight, I want to ask you- whether you are an Independent, a Reagan Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, or just a plain old Democrat- this year, when you vote for President, vote for the person you believe is best for our country- not for the Party you happen to belong to... Vote for the leader... who has always put America first...
Let's come together this November to make a great American patriot, John McCain, our next great President!
The Benediction was next offered by Rabbi Ira Flax of Beth Israel Synagogue in Biloxi, Mississippi, a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Thereafter, Republican National Committee co-chair Jo Ann Davidson recognized a delegate from South Carolina who moved that the Convention adjourn, subject to the call of the Chair-- this being approved viva voce, the Convention's second day now came to an end.