McCain locked up the nomination with a roll call vote late Wednesday at the Republican National Convention. Republicans hope the veteran senator with a reputation as a maverick can overcome the legacy of George W. Bush and give their party four more years in the White House.
The state-by-state vote was anticlimactic in the aftermath of the speech by Palin, the conservative Alaska governor who in one week has gone from virtual unknown to become the most controversial figure in American politics.
Her address was the most closely watched event of the four-day convention. Palin, 44, has less than two years of experience as a governor and no experience outside the state. Republicans have had to fight off criticism that she is a lightweight unfit to assume the presidency if McCain wins the Nov. 4 election and then becomes incapacitated.
It is not clear how her speech will affect the overall race, but judging by the thunderous applause in the convention center, party loyalists were reassured. With her youthful experience as a sportscaster and time spent in the governor's office, Palin's timing was flawless, her appeal to the crowd obvious.
Palin took special care in introducing her husband and five children, including a son who is a soldier heading to Iraq, a 17-year-old unwed pregnant daughter and a son born in April with Down syndrome. "Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys," she said as the audience signaled its understanding.
She mixed together praise for McCain, quips about small-town life, criticism of Washington insiders and a smiling, sarcastic attack on Obama. "Victory in Iraq is finally in sight; he wants to forfeit," she said of Obama. "Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America; he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."
After the speech, Palin and her family were embraced on stage by McCain, his first appearance at the convention. "Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States," McCain asked through the deafening noise that washed through the hall after Palin's polished first appearance before a national television audience.
McCain, is scheduled to accept the nomination in a speech Thursday night. Palin has been the subject of intense scrutiny since McCain tapped her as his vice presidential running mate Friday. Disclosures have included her unwed daughter's pregnancy and details of an ethics probe, the United States' northernmost state. Virtually nothing is known about her grasp of foreign policy or security issues.
McCain's campaign has accused the media of creating scandals to destroy the first female Republican candidate for vice president. Palin grabbed that theme and raised the stakes.
"I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment," Palin said. "And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. …