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McCain Recycled '04 RNC Riff to Close '08 Convention Speech

September 5, 2008

For the most part, John McCain's Republican National Convention speech was generally panned. While former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson called the performance ''pretty disappointing," CNN's Jeffrey Toobin deemed it "the worst speech by a nominee that I've heard since Jimmy Carter in 1980." But McCain did get some high marks for his rousing finish, which exhorted Americans to "stand up" and fight. As it turns out, he probably knew that part by heart. After all, he delivered pretty much the same close to Republicans in 2004.

Four years ago in NewYork, John McCain brought the assembled GOP to their feet with his powerful call to arms with his staccato conclusion (starting at about 4:10):

"Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity.
We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible.
Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong.
Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight.
We're Americans.
We're Americans, and we'll never surrender.
They will."

Fast forward to St. Paul in 2008 and McCain went back to the well. Hoping to reanimate his comatose address, McCain again called on viewers to stand and fight (beginning at roughly 50:00):

"Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right for our country. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other, for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up, and fight.
Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up.
We never quit.
We never hide from history. We make history."

Of course, McCain's two speeches differed in many important regards. But on one point there is simply no comparison. As McCain put it in 2004 but was sure not repeat this week:

"President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration."

UPDATE: As the Daily Show's Jon Stuart pointed out in this video comparison, "change agent" John McCain 2008 sounded an awful lot like George W. Bush 2000.

2 comments on “McCain Recycled '04 RNC Riff to Close '08 Convention Speech”

  1. When I hear the message of fight, fight, fight coming from McCain after the very cruel treatment as a POW in Vietnam it makes perfect sense. See so many young and old soldiers come home with severe post-traumatic syndrome and when they don't get treatment their world is torn between fear and anger. That seems prevalent in McCain's republican party speech. All he and the rest of them know how to generate is anger and fear. Seems reasonable.

  2. What also wasn't as clear in 04 as it is now is that McCain seems to think that the Democrats are the enemy. Maybe he did in 04 as well, and I just wasn't cynical enough to see it.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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