Republican presidential nominee John McCain accepted his party's nomination Thursday night in a speech designed to recast the conservative party of President Bush and Karl Rove into his own maverick image.
The Republican presidential nominee and former fighter pilot used his grueling experience as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War to emphasize his toughness and his qualifications to lead the country.
"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's," McCain said.
Now that McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have both accepted their parties' nominations and their conventions are over, the two presidential contenders will battle for the upperhand on every one of the 60 days left for campaigning.
WATCH SEN. BARACK OBAMA THIS SUNDAY ON "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS" AT 9 A.M. ET On the day after McCain officially became the GOP nominee, there was ammunition for both sides in an ABC News poll on the vice presidential candidates. The survey was taken after McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, gave a rousing speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.
The relatively unknown Palin made a good first impression with 50 percent of those polled having a favorable opinion of her. But only 42 percent believed she had the necessary experience to be vice president. On the Democratic side, 66 percent believed Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, had the right experience to be a VP.
Palin's widely viewed convention speech has been credited with galvanizing the Republican base, but it has apparently revved up the Democrats as well.
The Obama campaign reports that in the 24-hour period after Palin's speech it raised more than $10 million. That's a one-day record for the Obama campaign.
But on Thursday night, it was McCain's turn to rouse the faithful, and he appealed to the country by touting his record of taking on the status quo.
"I've fought corruption, and it didn't matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and had to be held accountable. I've fought big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, while you struggle to buy groceries, fill your gas tank and make your mortgage payment."
"I fought for the right strategy, and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn't a popular thing to do," the Arizona senator continued. "And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war."
McCain touched ever so briefly on foreign policy, the economy and energy independence, but the bulk of his speech was devoted to painting himself as a man of character with a record of agitating against the status quo of his party and congressional spending in Washington.
"You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you," McCain said.