ST. PAUL, Minn. – Republicans assailed Barack Obama as the most liberal, least experienced White House nominee in history Tuesday night as President Bush led a convention chorus of praise for GOP candidate John McCain. Delegates rallied behind vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin in the face of fresh controversy.
“God only made one John McCain, and he is his own man,” declared Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee – awarded a prime-time turn at the Republicans’ convention podium.
The convention hall resounded with boos when Lieberman said the Democratic presidential candidate voted to cut off funding “for our troops on the ground” in Iraq last year.
And again when former Sen. Fred Thompson scoffed at the 47-year-old Illinois senator, who is seeking to become the first black president.
“Democrats present a history-making nominee for president. History making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee ever to run for president,” Thompson said as delegates roared their agreement.
Thompson and Lieberman both cast Palin as a political maverick in the McCain mold.
The Republican nominee-in-waiting campaigned in Pennsylvania and Ohio during the day, slowly making his way toward the convention city where the 72-year-old Arizona senator will deliver his formal acceptance speech Thursday night.
Bush, an unpopular president relegated to a minor role at the convention, reprised the national security themes that propelled him to a second term as he spoke – briefly, by satellite from the White House.
“We need a president who understands the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “That to protect America, we must stay on offense, stop attacks before they happen and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain.”
Bush, who scrapped a planned Monday night speech at the convention, referred to the years of torture McCain endured as a prisoner of war. Then he added, “If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.”
Thompson delivered a strong defense of Palin. He said the Alaska governor, was “from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family.”
Other Republicans – delegates and luminaries alike – also defended Palin, who disclosed Monday that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. In addition, a lawyer has been hired to represent the governor in an ethics-related controversy.