Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brought the Republican National Convention to its feet Wednesday night in a highly anticipated acceptance speech, skewering Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, slamming the news media, painting herself as the ultimate Washington outsider and touting the military service and reformer record of her ticketmate, Sen. John McCain.
By the end of the night, delegates -- representing the base of the Republican Party -- were chanting her name, a long way from less than a week ago when the little-known governor of one of the least populous states in the nation was introduced as McCain's running mate.
McCain, who officially became his party's presidential nominee Wednesday night, made a surprise appearance at the Xcel Center for Palin's speech, similar to the one Obama made last week when his ticketmate, Sen. Joe Biden, delivered his acceptance speech.
As soon as the applause faded, work crews began tearing down Palin's stage and building a new, round stage that will showcase the convention's main event -- John McCain.
The GOP headliner thrives in town hall settings, and has never been comfortable delivering a set speech off a teleprompter. McCain has reportedly been practicing his speech for days and hopes to bring the convention to a rousing climax tonight.
To do that, McCain must spell out what a new Republican administration will do, ABC's chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, told "Good Morning America."
McCain "has got to do that tonight," Stephanopoulos said.
On Wednesday night, however, the spotlight was on Palin, the little-known 44-year-old governor of Alaska, who is both the first woman and the youngest person ever to hold that post.
Palin has galvanized the Republican Party with her conservative philosophies and captured intense media attention when she released a stunning statement saying her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant and intends to keep the baby and marry the young father.
Watch the ABC News live special with Charlie Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St.Paul at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
In her prime-time national political debut, Palin touted her small-town Alaska roots and took the fight directly to Obama.
"I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America," Palin said. "I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country. And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions and met far graver challenges and knows how tough fights are won -- the next president of the United States, John S. McCain."
Delivering her biography, Palin said, "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town."
Calling herself "an average hockey mom," Palin joked, "You know what they say the difference is between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick!
"I signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters and knew their families, too," she said.