McCain promises ‘change’ while accepting Republican nomination

September 5th, 2008 - 11:10 am ICT by IANS  

St. Paul (Minnesota) Sep 5 (DPA) John McCain has touted his record as a reformer and sought to reclaim the mantle of change from his Democratic opponent in a speech accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.McCain Thursday night slammed his own party for having “lost the trust of the American people” over eight years in office.

“Let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second crowd: change is coming,” McCain said.

McCain, a 26-year Arizona senator but with a maverick reputation, sounded many of the anti-establishment themes that have been the cornerstone of Democratic rival Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency.

But McCain argued that he was the candidate with a proven ability to shake up Washington and bring opposing politicians together, in an attempt to rebuff the arguments of his Democratic opponents that he represents the policies and practices of his unpopular Republican compatriot, President George W. Bush.

“We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption,” McCain said. “We’re going to change that.”

“I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not,” McCain said, alluding to his five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

McCain said his time in the military and in captivity had taught him the drawbacks of war and promised to use diplomatic and economic means in addition to military force to defeat US enemies.

“I hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination,” McCain said.

“I’m running for president to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has.”

McCain was preceded by his wife, Cindy, on the final night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cindy McCain praised her husband as a military hero, dedicated father, a reformist and independent thinker.

“If Americans want straight talk and the plain truth they should take a good close look at John McCain … a man who served in Washington without ever becoming a Washington insider,” she said.

McCain spoke of his military history as a fighter pilot who was shot down, captured and tortured for his country in the Vietnam War - a service regularly highlighted as a strong virtue during the convention, the theme of which was “country first”.

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s,” McCain said. “I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.”

McCain spoke of “admiration” for Obama and his speech was relatively soft on attacks on the Illinois senator. But he took one subtle jab that played into Republican criticisms of Democratic nominee as a presumptive, celebrity-style politician.

“I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need,” he said.

Obama had earlier criticised the Republican four-day convention for a series of negative attacks on him and heavy focus on McCain’s personal story, while talking little about economic issues.

“They’ve had a lot to say about me, but they haven’t had anything to say about you,” Obama, a four-year senator from Illinois, said at a Pennsylvania rally.

“You haven’t heard a word about how we’re going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocketbook day-to-day,” he said.

In preparation for McCain’s speech, the convention stage was retooled and the podium extended further out into the crowd of thousands of delegates, creating more of a townhall-style gathering, which is famously McCain’s favourite type of venue.

McCain’s speech followed Wednesday’s address by his vice presidential candidate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was a relatively unknown politician from one of the least-populated US states until selected as McCain’s running mate last week.

More than 37 million people watched her convention speech, according to Nielsen Media Research, only about one million less than watched Obama’s acceptance speech last week.

It was unclear if McCain’s acceptance speech would receive the same ratings. Thursday was also the opening night of the American football season, but the New York Giants-Washington Redskins game ended only minutes before McCain took to the stage.

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