Highlighting her 19-year-old son Track's upcoming deployment to Iraq, Palin said McCain is "a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight.
"And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander-in-chief. I'm just one of many moms who'll say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way," she said.
Taking a direct shot at Obama's background as a Chicago community organizer, Palin said, "Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except you have actual responsibilities," she said to wild applause.
"I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening," Palin said, roasting Obama. "We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
"As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man. I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment."
Slamming the news media, Palin said, "And I've learned quickly these past few days that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country."
Taking on Obama's mantra of "change," Palin said, "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."
Touting her fiscal record as governor of Alaska, Palin told the story of how when she took office, she put the governor's jet up for sale on eBay.
"I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network," she said.
"I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay. I also drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef," she said to cheers and applause from the Republican delegates.
Palin also brought attention to her baby son, Trig, who has Down syndrome.
"Our family has the same ups and downs as any other. ... Children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters," she said.
Listening to her speech, sitting side-by-side inside a VIP box were Cindy McCain, Palin's husband, Todd, and her five children, including daughter Bristol, and Palin's future son-in-law, 18-year-old Levi Johnston.