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GOP convention resumes with focus on McCain's character, leadership

September 2, 2008 |  3:59 pm

ST. PAUL -- We now resume our normal programming.

Tonight, to the surprise of only three people in Idaho who don't have television because they shot it out after four consecutive Billy Mays commercials, a series of speakers at the Republican National Convention here will make the case that Arizona Sen. John McCain is the best, most experRepublican presidential nominee Arizona senator John McCain and former Tennesssee Senator Fred Thompsonienced, most qualified person of character to lead America into a prosperous future in a very dangerous world.

After a one-day delay caused by a German hurricane that came nowhere near here, Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee will say that his friend is "the kind of man that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders."

"He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003," Thompson will say. "He went seeking truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives.

"And the same character that marked John McCain's military career has also marked his political career. This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular."

Speaking via video from the White House, President Bush will tell anyone watching:

"Last year, John McCain’s independence and character helped change history. 

"The Democrats had taken control of Congress and were threatening to cut off funds for our troops. In the face of calls for retreat, I ordered a surge of forces into Iraq. Many in Congress said it had no chance of working. 

"Yet one senator above all had faith in our troops and the importance of their mission –- and that was John McCain. 

"Some told him that his early and consistent call for more troops would put his presidential campaign at risk.  He told them he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. 

"That is the kind of courage and vision we need in our next commander in chief."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut will also speak. He is not expected to buck the trend toward McCain here tonight.

-- Andrew Malcolm