McCain calls for change in RNC speech

Republican presidential candidate John McCain makes his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday. Paul Sancya, The Assocaited Press

AP

Republican presidential candidate John McCain makes his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday. Paul Sancya, The Assocaited Press

By David Espo and Robert Furlow

ST. PAUL, Minn. – John McCain, a POW turned political rebel, vowed Thursday night to vanquish the “constant partisan rancor” plaguing the nation as he launched his fall campaign for the White House. “Change is coming” to Washington, he promised the Republican National Convention.

“I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again,” McCain said in a prime-time address. “I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not,” he said of his rival for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama.

McCain drew a roar from his delegates when he walked out onto the convention stage to speak, silhouetted by a single spotlight. He was introduced by a video that dwelt heavily on his service, a man hailed for “a faithful unyielding love for America, country first.”

“USA, USA, USA,” chanted the crowd in the hall.

McCain’s speech was the highlight of the final night of the party convention, but before he took the podium, delegates unanimously awarded the vice presidential nomination to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. She is the first female ticketmate in Republican history.

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    McCain, 72 and campaigning to become the oldest first-term president in history, faced a delicate assignment as he formally accepted his party’s presidential nomination: presenting his credentials as a reformer willing to take on his own party and stressing his independence from an unpopular President Bush – all without breaking faith with his Republican base.

    Other Republicans were far more pointed in criticizing Obama from the convention podium.

    In the race for the White House, “It’s not about building a record, it’s about having one,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. “It’s not about talking pretty, it’s about talking straight.”