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McCain Vows To Reach Across Party Lines


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

John McCain ended the Republican Convention with a gentler speech than the ones that preceded it. He promised that as president he would take the best ideas for the country, even if they came from Democrats. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Even as he accepted the Republican nomination for the White House, John McCain showed the independent streak that's long worried some of his party's faithful. McCain called for an end to the partisan rancor that keeps politicians in Washington from solving problems and said he would ask Democrats and Independents to serve in a McCain administration.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona, Presidential Nominee): Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it. This amazing country…

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. MCCAIN: …this amazing country can do anything we put our minds to.

HORSLEY: McCain said he has a record of just that kind of bipartisan leadership and that Democratic rival Barack Obama does not. McCain promised to campaign hard against Obama in the two months before the November election, but he also said he admires the Illinois senator and his supporters.

Sen. MCCAIN: Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other.

HORSLEY: McCain also gave a fleeting nod to President Bush, without actually mentioning his name, for leading the country after September 11th and for preventing another attack. The Arizona senator was interrupted several times by hecklers, who were generally shouted down with chants of USA.

McCain described himself as a maverick who's willing to challenge special interests, whether they're defense contractors, tobacco companies or even fellow Republicans. In an election year when the Republican brand has been badly tarnished, McCain said the problem is not the party's long-held principles, but Republican leaders who haven't lived up to them.

Sen. MCCAIN: We were elected to change Washington and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger.

HORSLEY: McCain's specific policy proposals came mostly from the standard Republican hymnal - lower taxes, more limited government, school choice and federal judges who strictly interpret the Constitution. One of his biggest applause lines came when he called for an ambitious national effort to wean the country off imported oil.

Sen. MCCAIN: We'll attack the problem on every front. We'll produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore and we'll drill them now. We'll drill them now.

(Soundbite of applause)

HORSLEY: McCain's speech last night was neither as partisan nor as passionate as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's had been the night before. But if McCain was overshadowed by his new running mate, that was just fine with him.

Sen. MCCAIN: I'm very proud to have introduced our next vice president to the country but I can't wait until I introduce her to Washington.

(Soundbite of applause)

HORSLEY: McCain closed by retelling the story of his five-and-a-half years as a POW in Vietnam, which was a central theme throughout the GOP convention. It was while in captivity abroad, McCain said, that he fell in love with his own country.

Sen. MCCAIN: I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man any more, I was my country's.

(Soundbite of applause)

HORSLEY: McCain says that's when he learned the satisfaction of serving a cause greater than himself, and he urged those who were listening to serve his cause in the next two months.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, with the McCain campaign in Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.