So if the GOP has found its hero, what of its longtime favorite antihero? McCain gets his night -- and with it turns a corner. (And might he roam the hall during his speech? That's the big rumor inside the convention hall -- around that renovated-overnight, theater-in-the-round stage, per ABC's George Stephanopoulos.")
McCain will seek to "recalibrate the central message of his campaign and the line of attack he plans to use against Sen. Barack Obama in the two months before Election Day," Shear and Robert Barnes write in The Washington Post. "McCain will seek to recast the Republican Party's brand in his own maverick image, staking his claim to the presidency on a depiction of himself as a political renegade in an attempt to overcome what he will paint as his opponent's more ephemeral call for change."
Said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., summing up the message: "Wake up! We're a party in retreat. We need to regroup, change the way we are doing business."
It's Mark Salter's night: "The speech delves into some of Sen. McCain's heroics as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and episodes from his personal history, but it isn't completely a biographical address, Mr. Salter said," Elizabeth Holmes writes in The Wall Street Journal. "One big challenge is Sen. McCain's delivery. Although he excels in the informal setting of a town-hall meeting and in back and forth with questioners, Sen. McCain tends to be wooden when speaking from a prepared text."
"The key: reasserting his credentials as a maverick who's often willing to buck his party while also framing a fall campaign that challenges Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, over who could really change Washington," McClatchy's Steven Thomma writes.
"What has yet to play out is which McCain will show himself most during the long run to Election Day -- a McCain who will push and prod his party into rehabilitating a brand that has suffered during the last four years, or a McCain who will need to position himself more in line with the party and make peace with fellow lawmakers that he frequently angered," CQ's Jonathan Allen writes.
McCain has no doubts about his partner: "The people of Alaska have vetted her," McCain told ABC's Charles Gibson. "She has been in charge and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities."
And, taking it right to Obama: "I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America."
And Cindy McCain leads the charge in labeling her treatment: "I think it's insulting. I think it's outlandish. . . . But because she's a woman, they've decided to pick on her. And I think it's wrong," Mrs. McCain told Diane Sawyer, on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday. "In my opinion, what's going on right now, I truly believe, is sexism."
If Palin is right and the national media doesn't get her, the reaction from the crowd only hints at what her candidacy is doing to the Republican Party at this moment.
"She was like a one woman Fantastic Four, her faults invisible to the faithful, her strength deployed to close a 20 point white voter gender gap in key swing states, her blazing novelty enough to ignite the hall, and her biography so elastic that everyone from the gun owners to the PTA moms to the Pentecostals to the first timers felt warm in the embrace," Time's Nancy Gibbs writes.