John McCain Picks Up on Theme of Change

John McCain Picks Up on Theme of Change
John McCain makes his acceptance speech
Ron Edmonds/AP

09/05/2008 AT 08:00 AM EDT

Senator John McCain accepted his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention Thursday in St. Paul with a reach-out to Democrats and independents.

"Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us," McCain, 72, said in a nod to his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama. "We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other."

Picking up his opponent's theme of change, the Arizona senator, promising to move beyond "partisan rancor," also vowed to remake Washington – by lowering taxes and stripping the fat from government spending, while mounting a strong national defense.

"Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second crowd: Change is coming," he declared, while saying, "I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again."

Recalling his days as a POW after being on a bombing run over Vietnam (tortured, with two broken arms and a broken leg, McCain withered to 100 pounds and "I couldn't even feed myself"), the candidate said, "I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me ... and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God."

Wife Sings His Praises

The candidate's wife, Cindy McCain, 55, introduced her husband as "someone of unusual strength and character." She said, "You can trust his hand at the wheel. But you know what – I've always thought it's a good idea to have a woman's hand on the wheel, as well. So how about Gov. Sarah Palin!"

Wednesday night's speech by the Alaskan drew 37 million TV viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Thursday at the convention, in a four-minute video tribute to the veep candidate, it was revealed that, growing up in the Last Frontier state, she shared a bedroom with her two sisters, heated only by a wood-burning stove – and she likes moose stew.

Friday morning, McCain and Sarah Palin were back on the campaign trail, in Wisconsin and Michigan.

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