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CNN ELECTION CENTER
Day Three of the Republican National Convention
Aired September 3, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They are the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners or on self-designed presidential seals.
Among politicians there is the idealism of high flown speech making in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things. And then there is the idealism of those leaders like John McCain who actually do great things. They're the ones who are good for more than talk, the ones that we've always been able to count on to serve and to defend America.
Senator McCain's record of actual achievements and reform helps explain why so many special interests and lobbyists and comfortable committee chairmen in Congress have fought the prospect of a McCain presidency from the primary election of 2000 to this very day.
Our nominee doesn't run with the Washington herd. He's a man who's there to serve his country and not just his party. A leader who's not looking for a fight but sure isn't afraid of one either.
Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing senate, he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, "I can't stand John McCain." Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man.
Clearly, what the majority leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain, and that is only -- that's only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate and put him in the White House.
My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery. This world of threats and dangers, it's not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer. And though both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been going on lately about how they're always, quote, "fighting for you," let us face the matter squarely.
There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you. There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you in places where winning means survival and defeat means death, and that man is John McCain.
You know, in our day, politicians have readily shared much lesser tales of adversity than the nightmare world -- the nightmare world in which this man and others equally brave served and suffered for their country. And it's a long way from the fear and pain and squalor of a 6 by 4 cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office. But if Senator McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made. It's the journey of an upright and honorable man, the kind of fellow whose name you will find on war memorials in small towns across this great country, only he was among those who came home.
To the most powerful office on earth, he would bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless, the wisdom that comes even to the captives by the grace of God, the special confidence of those who have seen evil and have seen how evil is overcome.
A fellow prisoner of war, a man named Tom Moe of Lancaster, Ohio, Tom Moe recalls looking through a pinhole in his cell door as Lieutenant Commander John McCain was led down the hallway by the guards day after day. And the story is told, when McCain shuffled back from torturous interrogations, he would turn toward Moe's door, and he'd flash a grin and a thumbs up as if to say, we're going to pull through this. My fellow Americans that is the kind of man America needs to see us through the next four years.
For a season a gifted speaker can inspire with his words, but for a lifetime John McCain has inspired with his deeds. If character is the measure in this election and hope the theme and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause. Join our cause and help America elect a great man as the next president of the United States.
Thank you. And God Bless America. Thank you.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thank you.
Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States? And what a beautiful family.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN "THE SITUATION ROOM" ANCHOR: So there it is the Republican ticket; the Republican presidential candidate John McCain and the vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She really did hit it out of the park tonight not only here but for millions of Americans watching across the country.
No doubt, Anderson Cooper, Campbell Brown, no doubt their first real impression of her had to be very, very positive given this speech that was obviously very carefully written but very well delivered.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN "AC360" ANCHOR: If anyone is wondering why she is such a popular governor in the state of Alaska, you saw the answer tonight.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN "ELECTION CENTER" ANCHOR: And I would say also that John McCain got his attack dog.
BROWN: Without question. There were -- I lost track of how many jabs she had in that speech.
COOPER: Do you think about the term she used to -- let's listen. BLITZER: I just want to interrupt for a second because we're the only network that is up in Anchorage, Alaska, right now. With Kyra Phillips, she's up there with the sister of Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin's brother-in-law.
And, Kyra, if you can hear me right now, you're in a restaurant in Anchorage. I wonder if we could get the reaction from Sarah Palin's sister.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure and I appreciate the shout out, Wolf. The crowd just went crazy in here. I'm hoping that's for Heather and Kurt and not for me.
There you go, they're pretty excited. As you can tell that we're live here, that's Alaska for you.
First interview here with Sarah's sister Heather and her husband Kurt reacting to the speech. What do you think, Heather? How did your sister do?
HEATHER BRUCE, SARAH PALIN'S SISTER: I think she made Alaskans and Americans proud. She was great. I could never even imagine what's going through her head and -- but my heart is just bursting with pride. I'm so happy for her, I'm so proud of her.
PHILLIPS: Now, she mentioned her special needs son, and that means a lot to you. Tell our viewers why.
H. BRUCE: We have a special needs son ourselves, 13 years old now. And I think with the close knit family that we have, Sarah and Todd saw, before they even probably thought of having another child, the love that this child brings, the joy that he brings. We have continual support from every member of the family just like they're going to have from us and from all the members of our family.
PHILLIPS: And Kurt, you've known Sarah for 19 years. What stood out to you? For you, it was military, right?
KURT BRUCE, SARAH PALIN'S BROTHER-IN-LAW: Well, I think that I'm proud of Sarah, obviously. And she wasn't afraid to bring John McCain's record out about being in the Hanoi Hilton, and Americans need to know that. He's been there, and he's put his life on the line for our country. And I guess that's about it.
PHILLIPS: Kurt and Heather, thank you so much. And of course, Wolf, we all got a chuckle when we saw little Piper licked her hand and fix the hair of baby Trig. I'm sure you saw that too, but everybody laughed at that.
And, of course, when she went after the Democrats, talking about terrorists and that all the Democrats worry about is giving them -- I think the quote was worried about reading them their rights. Well, everybody here shouted "Go, Barracuda."
COOPER: Let's check in with our Republican strategist. We have Alex Castellanos. She shot it out of the park from a Republican standpoint.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the Republicans have to be thrilled with what happened here tonight. The most macho speech was given by a woman. The goal for the Republicans tonight was to get people at home saying, oh, that's why he picked her.
We've been told all week, that while on this -- by the Democrats, I think, the Republicans are going to be saying that we've been told all week that she's not up to the big job, to the big test.
BLITZER: Let me interrupt there -- they're singing "The Star Spangled Banner" right now. So we're going to stand for that and maybe we'll listen.
BLITZER: That was John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Cowboy Troy. They're performing tonight. That's the first time I've ever heard the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance blended like that.
They're performing right now. I want to listen in briefly because this is some country music that we really haven't heard. We're going to listen to this for a while, and then we're going to continue our discussion on this historic speech tonight. Let's listen in briefly.
BLITZER: "Raisin' McCain," John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy. The entertainment was supposed to come earlier, but they waited because they were running behind schedule.
We have a lot to dissect tonight. What an amazing speech from the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Whatever you think about the substance, whether you think she's right or whether you think she's wrong, clearly a star has been born here in the United States.
The roll call is coming up.
And our assessment of what is going on.
Stay tuned. Much more of our coverage from the Republican National Convention coming up. We're only just beginning.
And remember, cnnpolitics.com. That's where you can go to see everything going up on the stage behind us.
Remember, we're only just beginning. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're here at the Republican National Convention. What a night. I suspect, Anderson Cooper, Campbell Brown, that the audience that she had tonight -- and this was really her first major introduction to the American public -- the audience tonight, I assume, is going to be in the millions and millions, and people were watching.
And you know, the images we saw, especially afterwards when she brought her husband and her family up on the stage, a lot of people are going to be able to relate to that.
COOPER: This woman was a virtual unknown this time last week. What a difference a week makes I mean as you said a star was born certainly for the Republican Party. Whether you agree with her or disagree with her, no one has any doubt, I think listening to that speech, that she is a force to be reckoned with.
BLITZER: And if there was any doubt that she could deliver a speech like that, Campbell, she dispelled that because she certainly -- it's not easy reading that teleprompter and knowing how to pause and that delivery. It was a well written speech. And she not only hit a home run, it might have been even a grand slam.
BROWN: It was an incredibly well written speech. And I think we knew she was going to deliver it well. She was great I thought when she was introduced by John McCain when we first saw her in a public setting, very forceful.
I think it was interesting who she was talking to tonight too. It was not the base. The base was on board the day she was announced. She was talking tonight to rural voters, those people who voted for Hillary Clinton and didn't vote for Barack Obama.
She didn't talk about abortion tonight. She never mentioned it. She talked about the small town values, those issues, that the elitism question, bringing back the "bitter" comments of Barack Obama, that people cling to their guns and religion, and making that appeal that those are the people she's going to try to connect with in this campaign.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It was a "how dare you" speech. How dare you question my experience; how dare you question my family; how dare you question where I'm from. And those people, small town Americans are the reason George W. Bush is he president of the United States.
And she even questioned us, what we do for a living because, in their take, some of us don't understand how that happened. They go after the editorial pages in "The New York Times" and the likes of that. George W. Bush is president because he won the hills of West Virginia, a state that was Democratic forever.
He took Al Gore's of Tennessee away from him. Everyone focused on the floor to recount. If Al Gore has won in small town rural America, he would have been president of the United States. That is the key to George W. Bush's base and that is just where she was going with that speech tonight.
CASTELLANOS: I think the Republicans are going to be happy tonight, because this wasn't just somebody who was reading a speech on a teleprompter. They saw somebody tonight out there, who -- authenticity -- but also somebody who could stand in a storm of media attention for an entire week and then deliver a performance like this unflinching.
That strength tests like that are how we choose leaders. Republicans are going to be thrilled if they saw that strength in her.
COOPER: Let's talk to some other Republicans. Amy Holmes is standing by in New York. I think Ed Rollins is there as well. Ed, let's start with you.
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's not here.
COOPER: OK, Amy Holmes, go ahead.
HOLMES: Sure, I'll jump in. I think tonight we saw how she got that nickname Barracuda, Sarah, the Barracuda. She said that John McCain, he doesn't shrink from a fight, well neither does Governor Sarah Palin. And one thing I'd like to add as a woman, as a conservative woman, that I think she balanced toughness and femininity very well.
That's something that can be very tough for female politicians. We know that Hillary Clinton got a lot of criticism on this very score. I think Governor Sarah Palin, her first time out, hit it pitch perfect.
COOPER: Leslie Sanchez?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think what's great about it is it showed compassion, it showed intelligence, and it showed strength. And for one time finally tonight we stopped thinking about gender and saw her as a leader, as somebody who's really lead this party to the next generation. She was phenomenal.
And I'll tell you what, there are a lot of people are going to be excited about this ticket for the first time starting tonight.
COOPER: David Gergen?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, she was a large, confident personality tonight. A Democratic friend of mine wrote ruefully the she reminded him of Ann Richards, who was very popular, as you know.
And she had an excellent speech for Republican purposes. I disagree with Campbell, on whether it was a speech aimed at the base versus a larger audience. I thought it was very much a base speech. It was one designed to really rally, to make enthusiastic.
And if anything, I think we're seeing this campaign becoming more of a base kind of campaign, but it worked extremely well with the base.
You have to give her a lot of credit. I thought the speech was very well crafted, and there was authenticity in the way she told her personal story, but I thought they balanced it nicely at the end with the conversation about energy and the economy.
It gave her a substantive grounding which gave her more stature. The jabs at Obama, you know, I think that one thing Campbell did say that I very much agree with, she is going to be the attack dog; let's say the pit bull of this campaign.
COOPER: Pit bull in lipstick, which is the term that she had used to describe hockey moms, and she in the past has described herself as a hockey mom.
BORGER: I think we may find ourselves back in the culture wars. It's a different kind of a culture war than we saw in the '70s and the '80s. It's small town America versus urban America. And clearly, she is, as you all were saying before, an authentic spokesperson for small town America because that's where she's from.
The other thing that's interesting to me is that who thought that John McCain, who doesn't appeal to those folks, would be at the top of a ticket that would be waging this kind of a culture war.
CASTELLANOS: But I think you're exactly right, though. This is a different, next generation culture war. This is not your daddy's culture war. This is the Annette Benning movie that's on every night. People love -- this is a hero, not just a star for Republicans.
BLITZER: Let me explain what's going on right now over on the podium. They're beginning the roll call, the mechanics, the formal roll call. This, we all know, will result in John McCain's getting the Republican presidential nomination.
There are a total number of delegates here of 2,380. John McCain will need 1,191 to get the nomination; 56 states and territories will be heard from. Until that magic number, 1,191 is reached. There's no doubt that this is going on. It's going forward right now. It's probably going to take an hour or so.
I just want to also alert our viewers that a special "Larry King Live" is coming up right after this roll call. Larry's got some terrific guests, including a lot of Democrats to react what we heard from the Republicans.
COOPER: Last week he was having the Republican response to the Democratic convention. This week it's the Democratic response to the Republican convention.
BLITZER: Right, Alaska's voting. So this is a strictly procedural but critically important part of the process because they have to go through the rules, and they're doing the rules. In fact, let's listen in for a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leadership that requires the woman who is building it, our Governor Sarah Palin, and casting 24 votes for the next president of the United States, Senator John McCain and 5 votes for Ron Paul. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alaska, 24 votes, John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American Samoa, nine votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, American Samoa, the only U.S. soil in the southern hemisphere, proudly casts all their nine votes for the next president of the United States, John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American Samoa, nine votes John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arizona, 53 votes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Secretary, the great state of Arizona respectfully passes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arizona passes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arkansas, 34 votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, the great state of Arkansas, state with people who have a vision to lead and shape the future of our country, are very proud of our favorite son, Mike Huckabee. He has the ideals and values America needs.
John McCain fits all of the qualities Arkansas would have in a leader. Senator McCain has exemplified a lifetime of service, sacrifice, and vision for America. We proudly cast our 34 votes for Senator John McCain and Governor Palin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arkansas, 34 votes, John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California?
BLITZER: All right, they're going to continue the roll call.
Unlike the Democrats, the Republican rules do not allow for a presidential nomination by acclamation. Sometimes some conventions do decide to suspend the rules and follow procedures that are not usually allowed, but there's no indication that this is going to happen this time.
All right we're going to continue to monitor what's happening on the floor of a very, very important process, the rules going forward.
But we'll make sure we'll let you know as soon as John McCain gets that magic number and gets the Republican presidential nomination.
Anderson, as we watch this, you know, everyone is still buzzing about a speech that -- historic speech. And let's not forget the fact that this is the first time the Republicans have gone forward and decided to nominate a woman to be the vice presidential candidate.
The second time in our history it's happened; Geraldine Ferraro was a Democratic vice presidential nominee back in 1984. So just as the -- that was history last week in Denver, when the Democrats nominated the first African-American to be their presidential candidate, there's history unfolding on this night here in St. Paul.
COOPER: Certainly, Sarah Palin has given energy, vitality to these candidates in the very short time since she has been named.
I just want to hit some of our other analysts. Try to get as much perspective as we can on this.
Paul Begala in New York, suddenly now the race -- does it seem different to you?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it does. I think this was strongly targeted at the Republican base. She's the new hero of the Republican right. And perhaps McCain needed that. I've maintained from the beginning that any campaign that's focused on its base after Labor Day is a losing campaign.
She had wonderful moments of self-definition and self-deprecation at the beginning of the speech. It started out just great. And then, there seemed to be a moment where as a speechwriter could sort to see where Matt Scully has been reporting to me, the chief craftsman of the speech, grafted on -- a speech he'd written before he had any idea who the Republican nominee for vice president would be.
It was sort of a standard, strident, conservative appeal; great for the hall but I think less useful for those swing voters.
The culture that Alex referred to I think it's interesting. In 1992 Pat Buchanan was in the Houston convention for the Republican Party and flat out used that word.
He said, I want a culture war and so there is, a culture war in America. I think Sarah Palin echoed that tonight, without using the words. The problem with that is, that's not where independent and swing voters are at. They're very impressed with Barack Obama's appeal for healing and unity. And what they really want to vote on is health care, jobs, the economy; basic middle-class kitchen tables issues.
They don't sit around, I'm from small town America, OK. I promise you, Anderson, they're not sitting around in the town I grew up in, and wondering if they should cast their vote simply as a way to annoy Anderson Cooper. It's a silly argument frankly, except for the tiny fringe of the Republican base.
COOPER: You are assuming I'm part of this elite media they talking about. But I have no idea what you're talking about.
CASTELLANOS: There's a wonderful story in America, almost a great America, the mythic journey that any of us and unexceptional American, from any place in this country can rise to be and do and to change the country to lead.
COOPER: For a moment, I thought you were going to diss the small towns for a second.
CASTELLANOS: No. And it's on TV every night now. And it used to be about guys in America. The guy who fights the heroic fight, wins public office.
The movie that's on TV now in our homes, it's about a heroic woman. It's the Annette Benning story we're talking about. Who can take on the good old boys and turn things around and marry Michael Douglas and find true love and succeed.
The important thing about that is, we know who to root for in that story. So it's more than the culture war by far. This is a story that Americans can regain their confidence and succeed. And it's not the old boys club, it's a woman.
BLITZER: All right, but let me just throw out one monkey wrench into the equation, Alex. And I want you and the rest of our panel to think about this.
This was a speech that she delivered beautifully, there's no doubt about it. An excellent speech and her presentation, the authenticity was strong. She still has a lot of hurdles to go. Will she do some serious interviews, tough questions, off the cuff, no prepared speech?
How will she do in that one-on-one debate with Joe Biden? That's going to be a televised debate. All the networks will be taking it. Those are going to be major challenges for her given her rather limited experience in the whole area of national politics.
CASTELLANOS: And the more we keep saying, that I think we keep hearing that she had limited experience. Can she do it? We're setting up those litmus tests for her. If she keeps passing them, she's going to be a heck of a candidate.
KING: In 63 days, the American people will choose between John McCain and Barack Obama. I think what she has done to help John McCain is close that intensity gap and excite the Republican base. But in the end, this, like every other election, it will be about the guys at the top of the ticket.
Remember, she did a great job in this hall tonight. We'll see how she plays out over time. But we always talk about the worst vice presidential pick in the world, that's a debacle.
Dan Quayle, good man, senator from Indiana, didn't quiet roll out very well. George Bush was down 17 points when he made that pick, everyone said, it was a disaster. He went on to win 40 states. So as important as she is to John McCain, it's the name on the top of the ticket.
COOPER: Are you giving too much credit to interviewers, too? I mean the vast majority of people will probably have seen her speaking tonight and perhaps will see her on local news or in events throughout the next 60-some-odd days. But they're not watching "Meet the Press." They're not watching necessarily you on a Sunday afternoon.
BROWN: John, you did this for us on the map earlier. And I respectfully disagree yet again with David Gergen. I think she will be very effective. I didn't find it to be all of that divisive in terms of just appealing to the base.
When you drew the map for us on the battleground states, western Pennsylvania, I think she can make an enormous appeal in those states where Barack Obama could not resonate, didn't resonate during the primary.
KING: But I think you're almost having a semantically difference because many of those people can be the base of the Republican Party.
KING: They're swing voters.
BROWN: But they're angry at the George W. Bush administration.
KING: If you go back to this, let me see if I can do this quickly. If you go back to this and you see that, that's the first time. He got 51 percent last time, George W. Bush. Not since his father in 1988 had anyone won a presidential election with a majority.
So he went beyond the Republican base. And some would say the Republican base has shrunk a little bit in the presidency. But look at all this red, look at all this red.
He is president of the United States because of places like Virginia and West Virginia and North Carolina and out here in Kentucky and southern Indiana and southern Ohio. He is president of the United States because he knocked -- Democrats win some of these big states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois. Obviously, they win the huge state of California. But look at the middle of this. This is small town America.
BROWN: And to Anderson's point, if she's there, she's not talking to the national media. She's there in those little towns doing local media and talking directly to those people and has the potential to be hugely effective.
BLITZER: And I want everybody to think about this question, because I've been getting a bunch of e-mails from friends out in --
BORGER: I'm quoting Barack Obama.
COOPER: Get your e-mails to Gloria Borger.
BLITZER: Here's a question that we're going to discuss, and I want you to think about this because people have been e-mailing me. They were watching this woman deliver, at least in this crowd, an extremely effective speech to Campbell's point that it may have reached out and resonated with a lot of other women and some men out there as well.
Did Barack Obama make a mistake in bypassing Hillary Clinton as his running mate and going with Joe Biden? Because he would have had a woman on his ticket, and a lot of Republicans were waiting to see who he picked because they thought they would have an opening for that crucial women's vote and narrow that gender gap if he selected a woman precisely because of that.
COOPER: The question is how -- does just because she's a woman mean that other women will vote for her? I don't think it's --
BROWN: I will say this because I think it's harder for the men to make this point. Which is there are qualities she brings that only a woman can bring, and I think and maybe it was Leslie Sanchez or Amy Holmes -- I can't remember who made this point earlier.
She can attack in a way with sort of a feminine air to her that makes those attacks almost more damaging because she doesn't come off as sort of screeching or jarring or angry in the way a man can. It was very --
COOPER: She's got a great smile when she's attacking. She puts the knife in and smiles, and you don't even know it's been done.
BROWN: Yes, exactly.
And in addition to that, I have to tell you, as a woman and as a mother, when I saw her family and she just talked about them and she -- you know, we saw the shot of her baby being held -- and I think it was in Cindy McCain's arms at the time, and talked about the special needs child and the challenges, I was very touched. You have an emotional reaction to that.
BLITZER: All right, I know that Alex is desperately anxious to weigh in on this point. But I'm going to hold you off for a second. Because let's take a quick break.
Everybody wants to weigh in and we got Jeff Toobin and we got Donna Brazile, Roland Martin.
They're all standing by. You want to hear what they have to say on this important and historic night.
Stay with us cnnpolitics.com is where you can watch there's a roll call unfold, if you want to see that. We have a lot more to assess. We're not going away.
A special "Larry King Live" is going to follow us. He has Democrats standing by to react; several of them. Last week, he had Republicans reacting to the Democratic convention. It's different this week. Our coverage from St. Paul continues right after this.
BLITZER: I guess we know now why they called her "Sarah Barracuda" when she was a point guard in high school up in Alaska.
Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate, made it official. She's delivered what is by all accounts a rousing speech, not only making the case for herself and John McCain but directly going after Barack Obama and Joe Biden, for that matter.
Also, some mocking, subtle, sometimes not so subtle, of Michelle Obama as well. Many of the speakers tonight, Anderson, were stressing how proud they always have been of our country every single day, a reference to some comments that Michelle Obama made.
COOPER: And you wonder what people are going to be talking about around the water cooler at work tomorrow, I think you know it's going to be this speech.
Want to check in we have a number of people we haven't heard from over the last hour or so.
Donna Brazile, how does this change the race for the Democrats? And do you think there are some Democrats tonight wondering should Hillary Clinton have been the vice presidential nominee?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if you look at the polls, it's clear that many of Hillary Clinton's supporters are backing Barack Obama because they want substance over style.
Anderson, let's cut through the chase; she gave a great speech because it was written by the same people who gave us the policies of the last eight years.
She talked to the base. She rallied the base. But what did she tell that single mom back at home worried about losing her job? She's the only person in the household with a job that can take care of her family. She didn't really talk to them. She didn't own up to the last eight years.
What she did tonight, of course the bar was so low, the media expectations. She cleared the bar. But in 29 days we have the first vice presidential debate. How will she perform that evening when the American people will expect her to know a little bit more about the economy, about job creation, and how we get our economy roaring again?
COOPER: Roland Martin?
ROLAND MARTIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Anderson, first of all, she gave a stellar speech. And look same thing I say about last week, about Senator Barack Obama to John McCain, game on. Same thing, she basically threw down the gauntlet tonight.
Now, all this talk about whether or not Joe Biden is going to be able to dance around the whole issue and going after her, you know what forget all of that. I expect the Democrats to go hard after her and hard after John McCain. When you listen to -- they're somewhat they're mocking and those kind of things like that.
But not only that, my parents are watching. Reginald and Leonardo Martin in Houston, Texas and let me tell you something, they were community organizers.
And this audience here, she mocked community organizers, and this audience laughed at them. Don't be surprised if Obama and Biden says, you know what, these community organizers are keeping people from losing their homes in sub prime crisis. These community organizers are keeping people with on having their lights turned on. These community organizers are the ones trying to save your job.
They're going to say the GOP doesn't give a flip about community organizers. That means they don't care about you. Watch them come out and hit them hard, on that and say, you want to talk about small town values. Don't you dare criticize the people who fight for community people who have community issues and expect them to come down tomorrow.
COOPER: Carl Bernstein, where does the race go from here? How has it changed tonight?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we've seen reinforcing the idea that the Republican right is running this election.
Before she got on stage tonight, Sarah Palin was already the embodiment of what this party wanted her to be. And she got up there and she delivered it, and she showed she's going to be a great cultural warrior which is something very different than a qualified vice president.
She might be a great Republican Secretary of the Interior, drill, drill, drill. But ask the question -- and I think the Democrats will ask this -- suppose something happens to -- were to happen to John McCain between now and the election. Would this be the Republicans' candidate for President of the United States? At some point we're going to go back to the qualification question.
A great cultural warrior speech, the tragedy of this election might be that we have now returned in this country to the cultural warfare that John McCain, above all other politician in this country, said had to end, as has Barack Obama. And now it looks like we're really fighting it out.
KING: Part of it, language matters in what we do. And I don't necessarily disagree with the point of what Carl was saying. But we do speak a different language when we talk about this party. And I think that's why we're often criticized. To say the right is running the campaign, but that means these people are the right, then Carl is exactly right.
But we didn't say during the Democratic convention, the teachers Union and the SEIU and the AFL and SIO are they running the Obama campaign and all of those delegates down on the floor. And many of them were members of the left.
COOPER: I will also say I didn't hear people talking about who was the speech writer for any of the Democrats' speeches, it seems we're only highlighting who the speech writer is for her speech. CASTELLANOS: And there was something a little different here to take exception with Carl. This wasn't just conservatism we saw tonight. This is that red America that John has on his map over there. That's the little guy America not big-time America. That's bottom up America.
What we saw tonight was a more organic conservatism. That's new. It's populist conservatism. It's the little guy can do it but the little guy's not a man anymore. It was a woman. This is a generational change.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to go down to the floor and check in with our reporters. But I want Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in. I know you've been itching to comment on what you heard tonight.
Jeff, tell our viewers what's you think.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let's just start with an obvious point that I don't think anyone has made yet. This speech was a heck of a lot better than Joe Biden's speech. I mean, it just was much more dramatic, much more interesting, much more entertaining.
But it was also, I thought, very smug, very sarcastic, very cutting. And you know what? The Republicans had been trying to portray her as a victim for the last couple of days. Well, she's not going to be a victim anymore. She's going to be a target.
And let's start with some fact checking of some of the things she said in that speech. Starting with the "bridge to nowhere" where she bragged about her efforts to cut pork-barrel spending; a project that it turns out she was in support of.
Now, you know, that didn't -- that wasn't raised in the speech. She talks about taxes. You know, Barack Obama's proposal will cut taxes for 80 percent of the American people and raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year.
Those kind of things, I think, are appropriate to bring out at this point because she is no shrinking violet. She's no victim. She is a tough, effective call, and, you know, game on.
BORGER: The speech tonight, the Democrats were kind of holding back on talking about Sarah Palin. They didn't want to kind to get in the way of the story. They thought they were very nervous about attacking a woman. They didn't know what to do.
I think after tonight's speech, they're not going to be so shy. Because Sarah Palin has shown herself to be a very tough adversary, and I think the gloves are going to come off about her on the very issues that Jeff Toobin is talking about.
COOPER: We're also are going to hear a lot more of the Democratic response from Larry King, with his hour, it's about at 12:30.
BLITZER: It's coming up. He's going to have a special program. We're almost near the end of this roll call.
Let me explain. You see the numbers at the bottom of your screen right now. They want Arizona to be the final state that will bring John McCain over the top. The magic number needed to win the Republican presidential nomination, 1,191.
They're getting very, very close to that number and once they do that, its official, John McCain is the Republican presidential nominee.
He will formally accept the nomination tomorrow night. That's the big speech, tomorrow night. They're passing right now a bunch of states so that Arizona will bring him over the top.
And once he accepts the nomination and this convention wraps up, he then is eligible for about $85 million in federal matching funds that he'll be able to use over the next 60-plus days between now and November 4th and the election.
So this isn't just a procedural roll call that we're seeing. Obviously it has very tangible and important steps.
Tomorrow, by the way, Anderson and Campbell, tomorrow they'll have the roll call for the vice presidential nomination. She already effectively said I will accept the nomination.
Normally they begin by saying I accept the nomination. She said I will accept the nomination because tomorrow they're going to have to do that, that roll call. But it's a much shorter one for the vice president. The Republican rules say you can't have, you know, go by acclamation for the vice presidential nomination as opposed to the presidential nominations.
I believe Ed Henry -- Ed Henry, are you down in Arizona right now?
Dana Bash is in Arizona. Dana Bash is down in Arizona. All right, Dana. Set the scene for us, what's about to happen?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's about to happen is that John McCain's adopted home state, the state of Arizona, is about to officially put him over the top and officially nominate him for the presidency of the United States.
Now, this obviously, is a tradition for the home state of the candidate to do it. And that's exactly what we're doing -- what we're going to see here. One little bit of color here, just so you know, the state that's right next to us right now is the state of New Hampshire.
That is a state that may not officially be putting him over the top, but that is the state that is the reason why John McCain is here. That is the state during the primaries when he was at maybe 2 percent or 3 percent in the polls, he went back, and because of his relationship with that state, walked his way back up to the place where he is today. So we're expecting this to happen momentarily in Arizona behind me right now. I just briefly want to give you just a little bit I know everybody has been talking about the impact of the speech. I had the perspective of covering the McCain campaign and talking to staffers inside the campaign.
And I got to tell you, there was a little bit of -- they we're not sure, many of these staffers, about how this was going to work. Because remember, when this decision was made, only four people , four people on John McCain's staff knew that he was picking Sarah Palin.
But the amount of enthusiasm, not just here in the hall, but actually inside the McCain campaign that I've heard over the last 24 to 48 hours, especially for those who have been in that bunker with her, trying to go over the speech and kind of really getting to know her, it's actually kind of remarkable, especially given the trepidation frenzy that there was even just a week ago about what this was going to be all about.
So it's very interesting to see that coming from inside the McCain campaign. As the day went on, the expectation game got higher and higher. They were raising expectations. Which as you know, Wolf, this is something we absolutely never see in politics. They were raising expectations for the speech, and I think now we know why -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, they're passing right now, waiting for Arizona to bring him over the top. Candy Crowley is out there as well. Candy, go ahead and tell us what you think.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it'll be interesting to see how this plays outside the hall. Simply for this reason, it has not been my experience in covering politics that women who eviscerate an opponent, particularly a male opponent in public, tend to come out on top on this.
It was a very, very tough speech. I don't know whether the political arena has evolved enough to kind of accept this coming from a woman.
Honestly, that's my sort of honest opinion. It was great in this hall. They loved it. She was, I thought, terrific, and you talked a little bit earlier about the balance, that there was this sort of here are my children and my son's going off to Iraq, and my special needs baby, and they brought that child out at the end, and she immediately took the baby and held him. So there's this whole maternal woman thing going on.
And yet she just pounded him. I mean, it was slashing -- we talked about how Joe Biden could deliver a line with a smile. I think he's met his match on that particular subject. I just don't know how it's going to play outside this hall.
BLITZER: Good point, Candy. You know, the other thing I noticed, Campbell and Gloria, I want both of you to weigh in on this, on the controversy that erupted over the past couple days, her teenage daughter, she told all of us, five months pregnant.
All of a sudden, the boyfriend, now the fiance, Levi Johnson, coming in from Alaska, sitting up in the box, walking out on the stage. She didn't run away from that in her speech at all. She embraced it, and she alluded to it as well.
BROWN: And I think that's -- when Candy said it's hard to figure out how it's going to play because on the one hand, she was so tough; on the other hand, so maternal. I think that's why it works is because of that. She didn't run away from those, the family issues.
It made her extremely relatable. She ran to her baby and held her baby on the stage. And made her extremely relatable, it allows her to attack.
COOPER: Do you think the Obama campaign is ready? Do they know how to address Governor Palin? I mean did they know how to deal with it?