New stage set for McCain speech

Thursday, Palin said she was looking forward to McCain's acceptance speech. "We are all very excited about tonight," she told reporters after meeting with a group of Republican governors in next-door Minneapolis. "The people of this country will once again see tonight the conviction and the character that make him a great man, an honorable man and will make him a great president."

In her Wednesday speech, Palin offered a sharp critique of Obama and Democratic running mate Joe Biden while explaining how her time as mayor in tiny Wasilla, Alaska (population 9,780) and governor have prepared her for the vice presidency.

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," she said. Before entering politics, Obama worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

Biden told USA TODAY this morning that he thought Palin was "very poised" and said he won't be able to match her "zingers." He said he believes she got a "raw deal" from critics and commentators who have zeroed in on her family and questioned her ability to raise her five children while serving as vice president.

"C'mon. This is 2008," Biden said in an interview in Norfolk, Va.

Obama, campaigning in York, Pa., dismissed the Republican criticisms of him.

"You're hearing an awfully lot about me — most of which is not true — but you're not hearing a lot about you," Obama said. "You haven't heard a word about how we're going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocketbook day-to-day. Haven't heard a word about it. I'm not exaggerating. Literally, two nights, they have not said a word about it."

McCain and Palin will leave St. Paul immediately after the speech and fly to Milwaukee area. Obama and McCain meet in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi, while Palin and Biden will face off Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.

Contributing: David Jackson and Jill Lawrence in St. Paul; Charisse Jones in New York; the Associated Press

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