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9:33 CDT: [Sean] By far the loudest applause of the night goes for the pro-life line. [edit]: yeah, but I heard GHWB was the greatest president of the last 40 years or something.

9:31 CDT: [Nate] Bio stuff was very effective, but this just seems cranky and very … GWB in 1992. This is the first election in a long time where I think the fiscal conservative, tax-and-spend line of attack is not going to win over persuadables.

9:27 CDT: [Sean] Fred Thompson was the laziest candidate this cycle, but he was born to do this bio stuff. He’s a strong storyteller. He knows how to pause.

9:23 CDT: [Nate] Given their alternatives, they probably can’t tell the POW story enough. I don’t really buy that there’s a fatigue factor involved when it’s used as bio-building (like it’s being used here) rather than as an excuse to duck questions.

9:19 CDT: [Sean] Delegates choking back tears as Thompson recounts McCain’s capture in vivid detail. Dr. Phil has joie-de-vivre.

9:18 CDT: [Nate] What’s Dr. Phil got that Fred Thompson doesn’t?

9:04 CDT: [Nate] Well, I don’t think GWB did any damage, which is about the best they could have hoped for.

9:01 CDT: [Sean] “The angry left?” I guess 70% of the country is “left.” Nothing more painful than waiting for a laugh line after “Believe me, I know,” followed by crickets. Surprised he went for the reminder of standing in the rubble of buildings knocked down by killers and telling the country how he’d get even, because that’s when he promised to get Osama bin Laden. Prime time has started.

8:52 CDT: [Nate] She’d better hurry up or GWB is going to creep into network prime time. BTW, I know there’s a serious waiting list for Republicans in Texas, but if Laura Bush resided in another state, you’d have to take her pretty seriously as a Senate prospect.

8:47 CDT [Sean] The Washington Post reports that Sarah Palin was a part-owner of an Anchorage car wash, that she failed to report her stake in the company, and that the company was eventually shut down by the state for not paying state licensing fees.

8:38 CDT: [Nate] That same story has been reported by the Weekly Standard and by NBC. What I don’t get is that … if you described the qualities of the GOP veep hopefuls in n-dimensional space, Palin and Lieberman would be about as far apart as you can get. Their strengths and weaknesses are complete opposites. So how do you get from Point A to Point B?

8:35 CDT: [Sean] David Brooks (long audio link) tells the story that McCain was set to pick tonight’s speaker Joe Lieberman, but that five Republican delegations were set to stage a floor fight against the pick. So McCain picked Palin, and then began to vet her.

8:34 CDT: [Nate] To the commenters: I think you can make a serious case that George H.W. Bush was the best president of the last 40 years.

8:25 CDT: [Sean] Nate is blogging from the future.

8:33 CDT 8:23 PM [Nate] Since we haven’t talked about Sarah Palin in six minutes or so… One point of chatter among the conservative commentariat has been “Why are liberals freaking out so much about Sarah Palin?”. I think there are two reasons. One, liberals smell blood in the water. But two, she reminds them of George W. Bush. There is not the same frat boy entitlement, thank goodness. But with McCain — whatever else you say about him — there was a certain seriousness of purpose, a certain respect for the Office of the Presidency that was hard not to admire. His campaign wasn’t dumbed down. With the Palin pick, he seems — to liberal eyes — to have undermined those things. It’s the old 50+1, smallball, base-rallying gambit, a pick less maverick than cavalier.

8:19 CDT: [Sean] Viva John McCain? Chuck Todd might get jealous.

8:08 CDT: [Sean] Bush 41 and wife arrive. Speaking of fashionably late arrivals, Nate will be joining us soon.

7:58 CDT: [Sean] I thought being blown off by Mitt Romney yesterday was the apogee of human experience, but watching the grey suited media guy with the little green bag (yeah, you) one row away follow this liveblog is a fairly down-the-rabbit-hole moment. Yes, that is AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” being played in the Xcel Center. Not just for minor-league hockey anymore. Here comes the former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. The big guns!

7:54 CDT: [Sean] Apparently Fred Thompson’s upcoming speech is a real red-meat, anti-Obama speech.

7:40 CDT: [Sean] After Michele Bachmann said, Republicans know that “service is an innately personal characteristic,” I went and got a free Bud down at the Captain’s Corner. They have some serious free upscale bar action going on, and when I grabbed a chip with my fingers in the hors d’oeuvres table, I was admonished for “not using the tongs.”

7:28 CDT: [Sean] A former San Diego Chargers defensive back is speaking about Ray Nagin and God. Couldn’t they have gotten Kellen Winslow? His son is, after all, “a %#%^ soldier!”

7:11 CDT: [Sean] Live from St. Paul, it’s approximately Day Two! Tonight we expect Joe Lieberman, Fred Thompson, John Boehner and home-stater Norm Coleman, who is appearing now. The C-Span feed inside the Press Center is a bit muted as far as crowd reaction, so actual wild applause may come across as polite golf clapping here. We can report that David Gregory is a line-cutter and that the CNN beef stroganoff is sub-par tonight. The rumor has it there’s free beer, so when Norm’s done, we’ll check that out for you, our dear readers.

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