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St. Paul: Thursday Night Liveblog #2: John McCain

10:26 CDT: [Sean] All right, let’s face it. The energy among the Republican partisans is bashing Obama. This is the Nobama convention. Sarah Palin was a “home run” among the St. Paul partisans because she went for it against Obama. And that was smart – she doesn’t have anything to really say about herself beyond hockey mom, short-term governor-of-Alaska, so bashing Obama was wise as both a distraction tool and revving up the base.

But for McCain, the task was different. He had to sell himself to independents, which perhaps he did – we shall see. But by nature, that meant his speech was directed outside of St. Paul, which explains why Nate noted McCain’s final stretch run was working against rather than with the applause. It wasn’t for these people here in Minnesota. I’ll recap some later after I gauge more reaction on the scene, but this is by definition a delayed verdict.

10:21 CDT: [Nate] I think that wasn’t all that far from being a really great speech. It certainly spoke to the right audience. But, it was undermined to a certain extent by the various sorts of technical glitches. And it lost a lot of momentum when he started talking about the economy — which, of course, is exactly what a lot of people were admonishing him to do. I think they’ll be reasonably happy with it, but also wish that they’d sent it through one more draft and trimmed about five minutes, and rehearsed it one more time.

10:10 CDT: [Sean] At least you have to appreciate the nod to Indiana with the once-again reversion to the Hoosiers theme. If Obama played “Remember the Titans,” an impossibly craptacular Disney cliched horrorshow, you have to hand the music to McCain at the end. I do find it ironic they’re playing Heart’s “Barracuda,” given that insiders now know “Sarah Barracuda” was apparently Palin’s nickname.

10:06 CDT: [Nate] A strong finish, although he seemed to be fighting through the applause rather than milking it.

9:59 CDT: [Sean] This is not the overarching theme speech I think he needed to hit the independents. McCain is coming across as a sincere guy. But running against Worshington is hard for a guy who’s been there 26 years. This isn’t his best forum – he’s far better in the town hall format that we’ll see in Debate #2. You have to grade McCain against a curve. For Big Speech format, this feels like a perfunctory performance. But those who like Big Speeches have presumably already gravitated toward Obama. I confess I don’t know how this plays among the home team here in St. Paul (more later), though I don’t feel the same wow-factor that Palin’s speech gave these partisans. Prime time ending.

9:57 CDT: [Nate] A couple of the big applause lines and emotional moments were maybe saved for too late in the speech. He can get the Xcel center crowd back, but we’ll see about living rooms.

9:52 CDT: [Nate] If the Democratic Convention felt like 1992 all over again, this feels like 1972 all over again.

9:49 CDT: [Nate] The slow pacing and teleprompter errors are starting to get the better of him.

9:43 CDT: [Nate] I don’t think this sort of tokenist populism is making the sale.

9:39 CDT: [Nate] Generally, a well-planned and well-executed speech so far, although in the past few minutes he’s reverted to being Generic Republican.

9:27 CDT: [Sean] Wow, the protestors are dumb. Way to achieve the opposite of what you intended – making McCain a sympathetic figure. It’s a gift – handing McCain a “bigger than it all” moment.

9:23 CDT: [Nate] Yep, it looks like he’s definitely in “good cop” mode tonight. Straight up the fairway so far in terms of people’s expectations.

9:21 CDT: [Sean] Sort of a Predator vibe going on.

9:20 CDT: [Nate] Lawn green, not lime green. Totally different thing.

9:17 CDT: [Sean] You’ve got to be kidding me. The background is lime-green.

9:17 CDT: [Nate] Congratulations to Senator McCain. The only guy they could have nominated that might have a shot of winning this thing.

9:16 CDT: [Sean] Zing! Nice, Nate!

9:15 CDT: [Nate] I thought we lost you at the Captain’s Corner.

9:11 CDT: [Sean] John McCain is about to accept the Republican nomination for President of the United States.