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Seattle Times Political Caucus

The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.

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September 28, 2008 4:39 PM

Making that all important emotional connection

Posted by Richard Wagoner

domke.JPGUniversity of Washington professor David Domke, an expert on the intersection of faith and politics, writes today about the first McCain-Obama debate.

By David Domke

Presidential debates are tricky things.

For one thing, they present an artificial setting: average citizens never engage in formal debates, and if elected neither do political leaders. Second, audiences are present, but they often aren't allowed to applaud, boo, or do most anything except sit quietly. Third, candidates must stand by while someone else criticizes them repeatedly. Who would do well at that? Finally, all of this is live, on-camera, with no commercial breaks. There is no hiding anything, as George H. W. Bush (checking his watch) and Al Gore (heavy sighs) learned to their detriment in past elections.

Not surprisingly, therefore, pundits and reporters often are all over the board in their impressions of debate performances. Consider some reactions after Friday's presidential debate, the first in the 2008 election.

On one side, Roger Simon of Politico said: "John McCain was very lucky that he decided to show up for the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Friday night. Because he gave one of his strongest debate performances ever." Similarly, highly respected Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen said, "The only good news for Obama is that any pain from this debate is likely to be short-lived."

On the other side, Joe Klein of Time said, "Obama emerged as a candidate who was at least as knowledgeable, judicious and unflappable as McCain on foreign policy ... and more knowledgeable, and better suited to deal with the economic crisis and domestic problems the country faces." Others similarly declared Obama the winner.

In general, though, punditry reaction missed the two most important things that happened Friday - both of which were distinctly favorable for Obama. Don't take my word for it: it's what public reaction to the debate is telling us.

In every systematic analysis of public response to the debate, results suggest Obama won. A night-of-the-debate CBS poll of undecided voters showed it, a CNN poll did too. Focus groups by Time, Media Curves, conservative-leaning Fox News, and liberal-leaning pollster Democracy Corps showed it. And a Gallup poll released on Sunday showed it.


First, Barack Obama was uncowed in being on the same stage with John McCain. Newcomer Obama could have wilted standing next to a former POW military hero, a lion of the Senate who has passed several pieces of landmark congressional legislation. Obama didn't appear intimidated or, conversely, over-compensate with arrogance. In fact, Obama was so comfortable that when he agreed with McCain, he commended his opponent's answers with statements such as "Senator McCain is right."

These words were jumped on by pundits, who said Obama was too generous to McCain. The McCain camp immediately put out an ad showing Obama's "he's right" comments. These reactions all missed something deeper: Obama didn't come off as a sycophant; he had the feel of a man confident enough to offer credit sometimes to his opponent, an unusual move in today's macho political culture.

McCain took a different tack. He didn't look once at Obama, didn't mention him by first name, and several times called Obama "naive" or "inexperienced." It turned off political independents. I watched the debate on CNN, which included instant reactions from a focus group at the bottom of the screen, and every time McCain harshly criticized Obama, the reactions went negative. Every single time. Obama's respectful confidence played much better than McCain's approach, which came off - whether intentional or not - as dismissive and contemptuous.

Time's focus group of undecided voters in St. Louis told us this:

McCain was seen as the more negative of the two - by 7 points before the debate and by 26 points after. The audience did not like it when he went after Obama for being "naive" or used his oft-repeated "what Senator Obama doesn't understand" line. When the two clashed directly in the second half of the debate, with Obama repeatedly protesting McCain's characterization of his statements or positions, the voter dials went down. Voters appear to have judged McCain too negative in those encounters and Obama more favorably.

Second, Obama connected with voters. Within the first five minutes of the debate he said "[W]e've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street," and "[U]nless we are holding ourselves accountable day in, day out, not just when there's a crisis for folks who have power and influence and can hire lobbyists, but for the nurse, the teacher, the police officer, who, frankly, at the end of each month, they've got a little financial crisis going on. They're having to take out extra debt just to make their mortgage payments. We haven't been paying attention to them."

That's Obama's version of Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" and George W. Bush's "I'm a regular guy." More professorial to be sure for Obama, but the words hit home. It's been an approach that has flummoxed Obama for some time, but he seems to have found a new voice since the Wall Street crisis hit.

In Fox News' focus group, two Nevadans interviewed on-camera who were impressed by Obama said this: "He cared about the average person and he got to me," and "He seemed to care about everyone in America." In the television age, the ability to convey empathy is the single most-important attribute in presidential debates - one that is far more important than the exhibition of knowledge, something that Republicans have known for years but Democrats have tended to ignore.

James Fallows of The Atlantic, and former editor of U.S. News & World Report, puts it this way: "Emotional messages, which are variants on 'how do I feel about this person?', are all that matter in presidential debates. Issues discussions are significant mainly to the extent they shape these impressions."

In its post-debate poll, CNN asked which candidate "was more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you?" Fully 62 percent said Obama, compared to 32 percent for McCain. And Time's focus group showed this: "Both candidates saw their net favorability ratings rise over the course of the evening. McCain started off with a 22-point net and gained 9 points. But Obama went from a 6-point net favorability to plus-45, a shift of 39 points that placed him higher than McCain at the end of the debate (69 percent versus 62 percent."

Plus-39 favorability in one night? It looks like maybe Obama did learn something in that much-publicized meeting with Bill Clinton a couple weeks ago.

David Domke, a former newspaper journalist, is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Domke also has worked with Democratic Party leaders in the Northwest to understand the dynamics of modern political campaigns. His latest book, "The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America," was published in January. He can be reached at

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September 19, 2008 4:02 PM

The candidates and the economy

Posted by Katherine Long

It's been a week of financial upheaval and political warfare, as the U.S. economy faced the worst financial crisis in decades, the stock market plunged up and down, and President Bush called it "a pivotal moment for America's economy."

We asked the Seattle Times Political Caucus: What do you need to hear from the two presidential candidates that would convince you they have the ability and a plan to tackle the nation's current economic crisis? Have you heard anything yet from the candidates that assures you they are prepared to tackle this problem?

Read all of their answers here.

Many caucus members aren't convinced that either candidate has the answers -- and neither has addressed the issue in an honest and refreshing way.

Dave Hamilton of Bellevue "would find it convincing if one would step up and admit that the economy is complex and its problems are complex and so too are the fixes. Then I want to hear that he has put a team together and that he and his team will spend much of the first 100 days working with the opposition to come up with a plan to fix our economic troubles."

Hamilton continues: "The fix must include a reasonable amount regulation and oversight -- certainly more than we have had for the last 8 years. If taxpayers are running the risk of having to step in and bail out private companies then we have the right to insist on certain regulations and oversight that minimize our exposure."

Paul Graves of Queen Anne is also looking for a specific message. "I will trust the candidate who says this: 'When the government puts up taxpayer money to bail out companies, we will treat it like a bank failure. We will wipe out the equity holders (who have earned a higher rate of return in exchange for their higher risk), fire the board of directors and top managers, pay off bondholders and creditors, and then sell whatever assets remain as quickly and profitably as possible.'"

And Graves thinks neither man seems like he's yet up to the task. "John McCain sounded like yesterday was the first time he heard the phrase 'mortgage backed securities,' " Graves wrote. "And Barack Obama essentially admitted he had never heard of the Laffer Curve when George Stephonopolous asked him about marginal tax rates on investment income last year. It's safe to say that if I were put in charge of finding one person to head a national fix the economy group, neither Senator would make it on my short list."

Megan Gustafson of Redmond is also looking for the candidates to acknowledge that the economy is complex, and many players are involved. "The candidate admitting that much is beyond their control would be honest," she wrote. "Then explaining how they will approach the economy during their Presidency as we would believe they will need to surround themselves with people who do study the economy, work with all the players and evaluate the options as they come. We have to trust their judgment and ability to work well with others for them to help the economy."

David Wakeman of New York is also not convinced that either candidate has the right answers, although he finds Obama's words more reassuring: "It seems that John McCain is completely at a loss. I don't trust his opinion because earlier in the campaign, he said he didn't really have a good grasp on economic issues and that he needed to read Alan Greenspan's book to catch up on economic issues. Now he is coming out, pointing fingers at what went wrong as opposed to laying out some type of plan that might be beneficial to getting the economy back on firm footing.

"Senator Obama seems to have a better grasp," Wakeman wrote, "if only because he isn't making radical statements and seems to be gathering his advisors to get the best advice that he can."

Among those who thought Obama gave the best answers this week, Jon Smith of Tacoma wrote that the country's financial policies have benefited the wealthiest Americans for decades. "What I need to hear is that they will reject most of the economic thinking we've engaged in for not just the last eight years, but twenty eight years, when Ronald Reagan began the neo-con revolution and the "ownership economy." Obama has it right -- that turn took us into the woods, where unions were busted, the corporate interests destroyed collective bargaining and then shifted their source of labor overseas."

Dan Rosson of Seattle "would like to hear Obama get very specific. If he can pull that off I believe the election is his. As dire as the economy is I believe it is going to be a gift to Obama's presidential hopes."

Bob Clark of Monroe thinks McCain's experience makes him best prepared to deal with the issues: "McCain was deeply involved in the Savings and Loan crisis some years ago and he was one of the sponsors of the establishment of the Resolution Trust Corporation. I am firmly committed to vote for John McCain for President because, after hearing his thoughts, I believe we need someone with maturity, experience and ability to deal with these very serious matters."

Anita Willemse of Seattle also likes McCain's approach. "I believe Senator McCain has already proposed a bipartisan commission to investigate and then move forward based on recommendations of the commission. He had a bit of foresight with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back in 2006 when he co-sponsored the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act. "

And Woodrow Alford of Sedro-Woolley also looks to McCain to solve the issues. "McCain has the experience of dealing with the Washington inner circle and has demonstrated the ability to work with the Democrats to solve problems. Obama does not have that experience nor has he demonstrated an ability to solve complex problems."

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September 10, 2008 4:41 PM

The risk of McCain's embrace of religious conservatives

Posted by Richard Wagoner

domke.JPGUniversity of Washington professor David Domke, an expert on the intersection of faith and politics, writes today about John McCain's courtship of religious conservatives.

By David Domke

The Republican Party celebrated a homecoming at its national convention in St. Paul last week, triggered by John McCain's selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as a VP running mate. Palin is a pro-life, pro-creationism, anti-global warming, gun-toting mother of five who has declared the U.S. war in Iraq "a task that is from God."

Suddenly, the Religious Right was breaking bread anew with McCain and his presidential campaign. Old rifts - such as McCain's characterization of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" in the 2000 campaign - were forgotten.

The political and religious right offer a familiar alliance for the GOP, and the post-convention bounce McCain and Palin are receiving in presidential daily tracking polls suggests so far, so good. But history also indicates that the GOP campaign is in precarious territory.

Beginning with Richard Nixon's victory in 1968, the Republicans have won seven of the past 10 presidential elections, in significant part by embracing evangelicals. Nixon, for example, famously was close pals with evangelist Billy Graham, even becoming the only president to speak at a Graham crusade in 1970 in Tennessee. Nixon's invocation of a "Silent Majority" played well with these voters, who felt on the fringes of American politics.

Nixon set into motion a love affair that has grown over time. Today, evangelicals have become the GOP electoral base, and it's impossible for Republican presidential candidates to win without their support. Fully a third of the delegates to the Republican convention in St. Paul self-identified as evangelicals or "born-again Christians," and my research with colleague Kevin Coe shows these voters to have become the key bloc in the GOP electoral coalition.

But Republican candidates have to be careful in how they embrace these voters, particularly close to election day when many citizens are paying attention. Anything too overtly religious runs the risk of turning off moderates.

Consider the presidential election of 1992, which is a close and recent parallel to 2008. Democratic nominee Bill Clinton, like Barack Obama, was running on a message of hope and change. Republican nominee George H. W. Bush was hamstrung with a tanking economy and facing a bloc of religious conservatives who were perpetually skeptical of him - just like McCain.

In 1992 when Republicans gathered in Houston for their convention, Bush was trailing Clinton in the polls and faced a choice: Bush could reach out to political moderates, whom he had secured in 1988, or he could seek to mobilize the base of religious conservatives. Bush took the latter approach.

When Jerry Falwell needed a place to sit in the convention hall, a seat with the Bush family was provided. In the party platform, Republicans took what many felt were their most socially conservative stances in decades - including, for the first time, explicit opposition to same-sex marriage. And most important, religious conservative favorites Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan were given prime slots in the speaking line up, with Buchanan delivering a take-no-prisoners address in which he declared, "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself."

Bush's strategy achieved its aim: It mobilized the Republican faithful. But it came with consequences. Clinton used these moments to paint Bush as beholden to out-of-the-mainstream religious zealots. True or not, it caught the attention of media and the general public. Sure enough, when Bush told a gathering that the Democratic platform had "left out three simple letters, G-O-D," the New York Times editorialized that Bush had "crossed a line" by "questioning the religious convictions of his opponents." Further media scrutiny followed.

Ultimately, Bush's highly visible embrace of the religious right so close to election day cost him moderates and, ultimately, the election. It's one thing to show love to the core of the party; it's another thing to do it when everyone is watching, which occurs in each presidential campaign beginning with the party conventions.

In the words of Doug Wead, who had run Bush's evangelical outreach in 1988 but wasn't on the campaign in 1992, to PBS' Frontline in 2004: "I'd have [had] Bush senior go ride horses with Pat Robertson on his private estates and say all kinds of things and kiss in secret, but not in public."

Wead added that there "is the great danger for a politician with the evangelical constituency. As a Republican, you can't win without them. But sometimes, you can lose with them, too, because of the backlash. ... [Y]ou have to be careful how and [in] what way you appeal to them."

It's much the same scenario in 2008. McCain needs both the evangelical base and moderates to win. It's clear that picking Palin has energized religious conservatives. But it's not clear yet how moderates are responding to his pick.

It's a delicate, fine line McCain must attempt to walk. The New York Times and The Washington Post have already run front-page stories about Palin's religious beliefs and how McCain is appealing to the party' s base. We can expect that Democrats will emphasize that McCain, the self-professed maverick, had his preferred VP choice - pro-abortion rights Democrat Joseph Lieberman - vetoed by evangelicals.

Ultimately, whether McCain can show his independence from these voters may be just as important as his ability to show independence from President George W. Bush.

David Domke, a former newspaper journalist, is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Domke also has worked with Democratic Party leaders in the Northwest to understand the dynamics of modern political campaigns. His latest book, "The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America," was published in January. He can be reached at

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September 10, 2008 3:31 PM

Where should the campaigns go next?

Posted by Katherine Long

Everyone loves to play political advisor, so we wanted to know how the Political Caucus members would advise the candidates on how to conduct their campaigns between now and November. The question: If you're in the McCain/Palin camp, what do you think the campaign should do after the convention is over to further make the case for a McCain/Palin presidency? If you're in the Obama/Biden camp, what should that campaign do now to further the case for an Obama/Biden presidency? And if you're undecided, what more do you want to hear from both sides to help you make up your mind?

Read all of the answers here.

We had a bit of a falloff in participation from Obama supporters for this question -- which makes us wonder if more voters are thinking like Scott Kastelitz of Bothell, who wrote: "I am still undecided but starting to lean more towards McCain. I am starting to believe that although Obama has positioned himself as the candidate for change, McCain is the one who truly may represent that."

Kastelitz thinks "McCain must continue to show that he is in fact a true reformer, someone that can get things done in Washington. Obama needs to figure out a strategy to convince voters that he can not only bring change to Washington, but that he can do it in bipartisan fashion, which he has not yet proven the ability to do."

Alexis Zolner of Seattle wants both campaigns to avoid making the race about religion, abortion and homosexual marriage. Rather, "I think the Republicans should pick a couple themes and go after them. I find talk about 'change' in the other Washington disingenuous and not specific enough. The straight talk express should be specific and include lowering taxes and curtailing spending; remove restrictions from offshore and Anwar drilling, advancing nuclear power, providing incentives to companies to develop other energy sources, providing means to people to find health insurance, solving illegal immigration, making the U.S. dollar stronger against the euro and the pound and removing impediments to global trade. The troops need to come home when the job is complete."

Carl Moll of Arlington, also a McCain/Palin supporter, had a lot of advice for the GOP, most of it centering on a focus on the economy. And he ended with these thoughts: "It has been said of this Congress, controlled by the Democrats, that it is a place where good ideas go to die. We need to change that. McCain and Palin should emphasize that good ideas are welcome and will be acted on. That is the way to reform America. Good ideas are our most important asset."

Paul Cox, vacationing in Vietnam, supports Obama/Biden and thinks the Democratic ticket needs "to clearly deliniate how and why they are different than Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin. They need to show themselves to be strong leaders on the issues that are on the people's minds- the war in Iraq, the economy, getting the government back under control, the housing problems.

"They also need to not fall into any of the traps that lured in Kerry or Gore," Cox continued. "If/when an issue comes up (and they probably will) they need to deal with it quickly, bluntly, and then drive onward."

Finally, Morgan Barney of Newcastle, who still counts herself as undecided, wants the next two months to be a serious discussion of the issues. "I would like to see continued communication from each of the campaigns about (1) their position on the main issues: the Economy, Education, Foreign Policy, War on Terror, Environment, Energy Independence, Social Issues, etc. and (2) their plans for the first year in office.

"What I do NOT want to hear are (1) more partisan attacks, (2) negative commercials (they all do it), and (3) what the "other" candidate thinks (I'll get that from the "other" candidate!!!)."

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September 5, 2008 10:00 AM

Palin's speech trumps everything

Posted by Katherine Long

Sam Nelson, 19, of Seattle, is attending the Republican National Convention as a guest of the John McCain campaign. He's the youngest member of the Washington state delegation. A student at Brigham Young University, Nelson became an intern for the GOP when he was 17 and eventually led the party's phone bank in Seattle.

He sent this latest post on Thursday afternoon.

By Sam Nelson

I'm on the light rail right now on my way to the Mall of America.

Last night there was a riot outside my hotel and we weren't allowed into the hotel until late, and of course I went down to see what was going on once we actually got there. Apparently there was a "Rage Against the Machine" concert and a couple hundred people wanted to do some raging. It ended up being a bad machine to rage against because by the time I got there I saw at least one hundred people zip tied and more police than I thought existed in the entire city. So it ended up being a late night and I was too tired to write anything.

But I have to write something about yesterday; the convention was amazing. The speakers were kind of boring until Michaels Steele spoke. When he said "Drill baby, drill baby drill" and the entire convention hall chanted: "Drill baby drill!" over and over...I don't know. Something about that was really funny. I was really looking forward to Mitt Romney -- my personal hero -- and Rudy Giuliani's keynote speech. They both did a great job and made me feel proud to be a Republican. But of course, Sarah Palin's speech trumped everything.

I think I kind of have a crush on her...

I've been to quite a few college rivalry games, bowl games, even world-series games, and I have never felt so much excitement in a room. It's hard to describe. Everyone just loved her. She came off sincere, confident and passionate... and very normal. The women in our delegation thought: "She defined Republican women." Another said: "She is tough, and strong, and powerful, and totally feminine." Her speech was all anyone could talk about yesterday and the entire delegation was in the hospitality suite to watch the repeat of it on Fox news.

Everyone laughed and cheered just like they did at the convention.

Palin is just what our party needed and I'm so thrilled McCain picked her for VP.

Sam Nelson

The shuttle is about to leave, so I better go. Big day ahead of me today!

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September 4, 2008 4:55 PM

Strong rhetoric with a smile

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Nathan Johnson is executive director of the King County Republican Party. He's worked as a research analyst for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, served as a field coordinator for Mike McGavick's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, and worked as a research analyst with the Senate Republican Caucus. He's currently attending the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

By Nathan Johnson

There are no words profound enough to describe what happened here in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday night. Never before have I ever seen a Republican crowd in such a frenzy for a candidate and so passionate about the message.

Governor Sarah Palin delivered at a level that exceeded our already high expectations. In Joe Biden's own words, "incredible," but in reality so much more.

Governor Palin addressed small town America in a way that only she could while reminding all 37 million viewers across the country that she was a "community organizer" that actually had responsibilities. The crowd went wild over that one.

Republicans showed their true colors on Wednesday night. We believe in progress and are excited for what the future holds. The delegates here are thrilled to be elevating Governor Sarah Palin to national prominence and significance.

Her message was compelling and her strongest rhetoric came with a smile. For all doubters, it was a wake-up call. For all believers, it was a revival meeting. For all liberal Democrats, it was the worst imaginable nightmare.

We are truly blessed to have Governor Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket.

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September 4, 2008 9:26 AM

Hockey mom or pit-bull with lipstick?

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Brendan Woodward of Woodinville is an alternate delegate from Washington state to the Republican National Convention. He's been interested in politics since high school and worked on former Congressman George Nethercutt's U.S. Senate campaign in 2004.

By Brendan Woodward

Sarah Palin: Which is it, Hockey Mom or Pit-bull with Lipstick?

The base is united, finally. Sarah Palin's single speech before the RNC has given new energy to the John McCain Campaign that will carry us through Election Day. On the floor and in the galleries of the Excel Energy Center, Republican delegates let lose a cannon of enthusiasm during their third convention session that will be difficult to beat tonight when they drop the balloons. Men were crying, women were roaring and Baptists were dancing in the aisles as the glass ceiling was broken by a veritable tomahawk missile from the State of Alaska. Sarah Palin has been launched.

Like a well heeled political pit-bull, Sarah Palin has the brains, beauty and bite to bury Joe Bidden in the backyard of national politics. He will have to watch out for her in two ways now. First, he will have to restrain himself from attacking her provincial roots as a small town mother of five. She is simply too likable on this account and any attempt to paint her as a political douce will make him seem like a chauvinist blue blood. Second, he will have to begin practicing for the vice presidential debates. After Sarah Palin's shock and awe performance last night it is clear that she will not be intimidated by the national stage that Joe Bidden has basked in for 30 years.

Barak Obama's hope in a new kind of politics has just been fulfilled by Sarah Palin, and the media has been put on notice. During the past six months network outlets have favored Senator Obama in the race for president and have gone as far as talking about what he will do in a second term - as if his first is all but locked up. For a Republican activist like me it has been an admittedly demoralizing bias to endure. But last night during Sarah Palin's speech, the political talking heads were put on-guard when she criticized the Washington elite and members of the media in her speech.

What the cameras did not show were the fists and fingers that we raised and pointed toward the press boxes surrounding the stage, especially NBC. We are fired up, we are not going to take it, and we are going to fight for every vote and put John McCain and Sarah Palin in the Whitehouse.

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September 3, 2008 1:38 PM

Lieberman "hit the mark"

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Nathan Johnson is executive director of the King County Republican Party. He's worked as a research analyst for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, served as a field coordinator for Mike McGavick's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, and worked as a research analyst with the Senate Republican Caucus. He's currently attending the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

By Nathan Johnson

Yesterday, the convention schedule got back to normal. Senator Fred Thompson spoke powerfully of John McCain's personal background of putting our country first and delivered the harshest critique yet of Obama's empty rhetoric. His slogans and one-liners had the crowd rolling. It was vintage Fred Thompson with an added flair and the delegates loved it.

For me, it was incredibly intriguing to have Al Gore's running mate from 2000 on stage endorsing what he termed the true change ticket in McCain/Palin. Senator Joe Lieberman was able to convey a clear message to many independent and Democratic voters who have yet to make up their minds.

Even though Senator Lieberman's intended audience was most certainly broader than the delegates seated in the convention hall, the response from those seated around me was exuberant… and it seemed like the Senator even enjoyed himself. At times, his subtle jabs cut so deeply to the core of Obama's faux change message, that even some of us delegates were shaking our heads in amazement.

It was great having Joe Lieberman with us. A man who has certainly cut his teeth pursuing policies that he believes puts the country first. Even in a somewhat unfamiliar Republican crowd, he did not hesitate to mention McCain's work on the environment or immigration reform, which made his message even more persuasive and authentic.

It's often hard to tell how certain speeches play out to the national television audience, but it seems to me that Lieberman's calm and collected exhortation to fellow independents and Democrats hit the mark.

Everyone anxiously awaits Governor Sarah Palin's speech this evening. We anticipate a game-changer and based upon the vicious attacks in the press and blogosphere, I suspect liberals across this country are dreading tonight's speech. I am confident that Sarah Palin will not disappoint!

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