A Hollywood ending?

GOP nomination continues McCain's American saga

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A prisoner of war who beat the odds during five years of brutality in a Hanoi jail cell, John McCain beat the odds again Thursday night when he accepted the Republican nomination for president.

The story of McCain's youth was told in the 2005 TV movie "Faith of Our Fathers." But walking up to the podium at the Xcel Energy Center, the now 72-year-old McCain turned another page in a new script that brought him from nearly failed candidate to a possible Hollywood-style triumph as president of the United States.

"I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth," McCain said. "And with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me."

Interrupted by more than two minutes of cheers as he walked out onto the long narrow stage into the crowd, McCain was greeted multiple times by chants of "USA, USA" during his nearly 50-minute speech.

He paid tribute to Sen. Barack Obama's historic run but said that the GOP would win in November.

"And after we win, we're going to reach out our hand to any willing patriot, make this government start working for you again, and get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace," McCain said.

McCain's story has been painted in the red, white and blue each day of the convention: the war hero who persevered against oppression as a POW; the early acolyte of the Reagan revolution; the visionary who believed in the war in Iraq when few others did. Throughout the convention, the message was McCain-as-maverick, evoking the "Top Gun" character by speeches in the hall, the campaign films that played and the Kenny Loggins music that blasted from the rafters.

"It's not about who can take a 3 a.m. call. It's about who has answered the call throughout his entire life," said friend and former Senate colleague Tom Ridge.

But with tens of millions of Americans tuned in, the GOP played to its strengths, with McCain as the lead to rescue the country and star-in-the-making Sarah Palin as his sidekick.

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback evoked another Hollywood movie by saying that if McCain is elected president, he has suffered for his country so much as a prisoner of war that he won't be able to raise his hand fully to take the oath of office.

"I don't know about you but where I come from they call that 'true grit,' " Brownback said.

There was also no truce in the Republican battle against the media.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn called out the media in the skyboxes lining the Xcel Energy Center.

"Listen up now, boys," Blackburn said. "As a wife, a mother, a businesswoman and public servant, neither Gov. Palin nor I need you to tell us what our limitations are or that we're taking on too much or when we might have reached too far."

The crowd leapt to its feet during the brief film that introduced Palin to the delegates. Palin was referred to as "mayor, governor, maverick" who had been picked for a special mission by "the original maverick," McCain himself.

Meanwhile, there were clashes between anti-war protesters and the police as marchers tried to move from the State Capitol to the Xcel Energy Center.

McCain also was interrupted a few times by protesters in the hall, who themselves were drowned out by delegates' chants of "USA, USA."

"Please don't be diverted by the ... noise and the static," McCain ad-libbed. "Americans want us to stop yelling at each other."