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McCain speech spurs November predictions

Arkansans in the crowd for John McCain’s acceptance speech Thursday were so emboldened by the Republican presidential nominee’s remarks they predicted an easy McCain win in Arkansas in November.

Jonathan Barnett of Siloam Springs said McCain would win Arkansas by eight points.

“He is on a roll,” Barnett said as hundreds of red, white and blue balloons fell to the floor of Xcel Energy Center just after McCain’s address. “He’s going to be hard to beat in Arkansas.”

“I think we will bury him in November,” Jim Reavis, a Fayetteville delegate, said of Democratic nominee Barack Obama. McCain “showed his character and I think he has a lot more of it than McCain.”

Barnett said that, while the McCain and Obama speaking styles are different, McCain connects to average Americans.

“He’s got a little softer approach,” Barnett said. “He absolutely has a different style. He is just skilled differently.”

Bill Poynter of Texarkana said he fielded telephone calls all night from inspired viewers.

“They were saying how good everything was going,” Poynter said. “All of them were energized and excited, people from both parties.”

Jim Harris of Saline County, who is brother-in-law to former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, said: “I think McCain’s patriotism has come through. This speech is going to get people who were undecided to come into the McCain camp.”

Harris said undecided voters will be swayed by Republican policy on energy and oil exploration.

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Political football

The NFL season starts in just a few minutes with a nationally televised game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The game may overlap with John McCain’s speech to accept the Republican presidential nomination.

Since Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, is a huge football fan (and a former Arkansas player) the question was posed as to what he would choose to watch if a Razorback game was scheduled head-to-head with a presidential nomination acceptance speech.

Here’s what he said:

“If the Hogs were playing tonight, I’d probably have one eye on one thing and one on the other, but most of my time would be spent with the Razorbacks. There would be no doubt about that one.”

It’s a safe bet to say Boozman speaks for his constituents on that issue.

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Republicans skip breakfasts

Arkansas Republicans couldn’t complain about a lack of sleep during this year’s national convention.

Unlike their Democratic counterparts up every day at 7 a.m. for breakfast meetings, the state’s GOP delegates had just one group breakfast — on the convention’s first day.

Tuesday through Thursday, delegates were on their own to attend other meetings or hit the snooze button.

GOP state director Karen Ray said the party decided to save its money for political races instead of using it for breakfasts during convention week.

“Our business is to go out and elect candidates,” Ray said. “We didn’t go out and raise money for the convention. We went out and raised money for our elections this year. We’re trying to be as responsible with our dollars as possible.”

The hotel where the Arkansas delegation stays hosts a free buffet breakfast every day, so delegates didn’t necessarily have to miss a morning meal, Ray said.

Last week in Denver, the Democrats’ daily breakfast meetings included speeches by members of the state’s congressional delegation.

Republicans on Monday heard from former Gov. Mike Huckabee and supporters of John McCain that included North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and conservative commentator Gary Bauer.

The lone GOP breakfast was sponsored by Wal-Mart. Sponsors last week for Democrats included Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both D-Ark.

Maybe Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, could have helped GOP delegates with what’s considered the most important meal of the day. Boozman does not have a Democratic opponent this year and had more than $175,000 in the bank at the end of June, according to campaign finance records.

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Huckabee math

The most-applauded line of Mike Huckabee’s speech to the Republican National Convention looks like the most inaccurate.

In speaking about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, Huckabee said: “She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.”

Wasilla has a population of about 9,000. Biden received close to 80,000 votes in his presidential bid earlier this year.

Biden is now the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

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No respect for Huckabee

A poll released today shows Republican insiders have no love for Mike Huckabee as they look ahead to the 2012 presidential election.

The National Journal, a Washington-based publication, surveyed 78 high-profile Republicans from the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., asking them to pick their party’s front-runner for 2012 if John McCain loses in November.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the top choice by a wide margin, drawing 55 percent.

Huckabee got just 3 percent.

One insider was quoted as saying about Huckabee: “The best campaigner of the lot, but he will only succeed if he can finally learn how to raise some money.”

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Arkansans like Palin

Arkansas delegates, like other Republicans in the convention hall Wednesday, had only good things to say about Sarah Palin’s vice presidential acceptance speech.

Delegates had been excited all week about John McCain’s surprise choice for a running mate. They said Palin kept impressing with her remarks.

“It was awesome. She hit it out of the park and it’s still going,:” said Robin Lundstrum of Springdale. “She hit all the right notes.”

Lundstrum said she was pleased to hear Palin’s assurance that America would become energy independent during a McCain-Palin administration. She also was satisfied that Palin talked tough on taxes.

“I’m just so pleased, she didn’t talk over all the issues. She just told you what she thought. She doesn’t talk out of both sides of her mouth,” Lundstrum said.

During a week where the McCain-Palin campaign announced that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, Arkansas Delegate Joseph Wood of Fayetteville said he thought it was important Palin didn’t gloss over her family issues.

“She said what she needed to say about the challenges her family has faced and she did a good job,” Wood said. “She didn’t go into all the dirty details.”

Palin, too, struck the right tone on Democratic candidate Barack Obama, Wood said.

“She didn’t go after Obama. She just went after his record,” Wood said.

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Huckabee speech text

Here’s the text of Mike Huckabee’s remarks, as prepared for delivery Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

As much as I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight, I really was originally hoping for the slot on Thursday called the acceptance speech. But I am delighted to speak on behalf of my 2nd choice for the Republican nomination for President, John McCain — a man with the character and stubborn kind of integrity that I want in a President.

I grew up at a time and in a place where the civil rights movement was fought. I witnessed first hand the shameful evil of racism. I saw how ignorance and prejudice caused people to do the unthinkable to people of color not so many years ago.

So, I say with sincerity that I have great respect for Senator Obama’s historic achievement to become his party’s nominee — not because of his color, but with indifference to it. Party or politics aside, we celebrate this milestone because it elevates our country.

But the Presidency is not a symbolic job, and I don’t believe his preparation or his plans will lift America up.

Obama was right when he said this election is not about him, it’s about YOU.

When gasoline costs $4 a gallon, it makes it tough if you’re a single mom to get to your job each day in the used car you drive. You want something to change.

If you’re a flight attendant or baggage handler and you’re asked to take a pay cut to keep your job, you want something to change.

If you’re a young couple losing your house, your credit rating, and your American dream, you want something to change.

John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to this need for change. But there are some things we never want to change — freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper.

Barack Obama’s excellent adventure to Europe took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don’t even vote or pay taxes here.

It’s not what he took there that concerns me. It’s what he brought back. Lots of ideas from Europe he’d like to see imported here.

Centralized governments may care for you from cradle to grave, but they also control you. Most Americans don’t want MORE government — they want a lot less.

Abraham Lincoln reminded us that a government that can do everything FOR us can also take everything FROM us.

I really tire of hearing how the Democrats care about the working guy as if all Republicans grew up with silk stockings and silver spoons. In my little hometown of Hope, Arkansas, the 3 sacred heroes were Jesus, Elvis, and FDR, not necessarily in that order.

My own father held down two jobs, barely affording the little rented house I grew up in. My Dad worked hard, lifted heavy things, and got his hands dirty. The only soap we had at my house was Lava.  Heck, I was in college before I found out it wasn’t supposed to hurt to take a shower.

I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.

John McCain doesn’t want the kind of change that allows the government to reach deeper into your paycheck and pick your doctor, your child’s school, or even the kind of car you drive or how much you inflate the tires.

He doesn’t want to change the very definition of marriage from what it has always meant throughout recorded human history. It is not above John McCain’s pay grade to grasp the simple fact that human life begins at conception, and he is committed to protecting it.

Maybe the most dangerous threat of an Obama presidency is that he would continue to give madmen the benefit of the doubt. If he’s wrong just once, we will pay a heavy price.

John McCain will follow the fanatics to their caves in Pakistan or to the gates of hell.

What Obama wants to do is give them a place setting at the table.

John McCain is by far the most prepared, experienced, and tested Presidential candidate. Thoroughly tested.

When John McCain received his country’s call to service, he didn’t hesitate, and he didn’t choose the easy path. He sat alone in the cockpit, taking off from an aircraft carrier to fly in unfriendly skies, knowing he might not make it back.

And one day, he didn’t make it back. He was shot down and captured. He was brutally tortured.

He could have eased his own pain and even cut short his imprisonment by uttering a few simple words renouncing his country. But he loved his country and knew that to return with honor later was better than to return without it now.

Most of us can lift our arms high in the air to signify that we want something. His arms can’t even lift to shoulder level, a constant reminder that his life is marked not by what he wants to receive, but by what he’s already given.

Allow me to tell you about someone who understands this type of sacrifice better than anyone.

On the first day of school in 2005, Martha Cothren, a teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, was determined that her students would not take their education or their privilege as Americans for granted. With the principal’s permission, she removed all the desks from her classroom. The students entered the empty room and asked, “Mrs. Cothren, where are our desks?”   “You get a desk when you tell me how you earn it,” she replied.

“Making good grades?” asked one student.

“You ought to make good grades, but that won’t get you a desk,” Martha responded.

“I guess we have to behave,” offered another.

“You WILL behave in my class,” Mrs. Cothren retorted, “but that won’t get you a desk either.”

No one in first period guessed right. Same for second period.

By lunch, the buzz was all over campus… Mrs. Cothren had flipped out ….wouldn’t let her students have a desk. Kids had used their cell phones and called their parents.

By early afternoon, all 4 of the local network TV affiliates had camera crews at the school to report on the teacher who wouldn’t let her students have a desk unless they could tell her how they earned it.    By the final period, no one had guessed correctly.

As the students filed in, Martha Cothren said, “Well, I didn’t think you would figure it out, so I’ll have to tell you.”

Martha opened the door of her classroom. In walked 27 veterans, some wearing uniforms from years gone by, but each one carrying a school desk.

As they carefully and quietly arranged the desks in neat rows, Martha said, “You don’t have to earn your desks … these guys already did.

They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have.

No one charged you for your desk. But it wasn’t really free. These guys bought it for you. And I hope you never forget it. ”

I wish we all would remember that being American is not just about the freedom we have. It’s about those who gave it to us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, John McCain is one of those people who helped buy the freedom that we enjoy and the school desks we had.

It’s my honor to do what I can to help him have a desk that he has earned one in the Oval Office.

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You’ve got my chair. And so do you, and you, and you …

About 2,600 Conway products fill the floor of the Republican National Convention this week.

The products? Virco Manufacturing Corp.’s No. 198-G convention center chair.

Virco, in Conway for more than 50 years, made the chairs that seat delegates from across the country at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

It’s the third straight convention Republicans have purchased Virco chairs. The model in use is “particularly suited for convention centers and arenas,” said Randy Smith, the vice president of marketing for Virco.

“They like it, it’s comfortable. I think that’s why we’ve done this the last three Republican conventions,” Smith said in a telephone interview.

Smith said many of Virco’s 1,100 Conway employees will watch the convention at home and pay special attention to their work.

“We take great pride in that, absolutely, whether it’s the Republican convention or if it’s Democrats sitting in our chairs,” Smith said.

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Huckabee set for prime time

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will take the stage at Xcel Energy Center between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. tonight to give his speech originally scheduled for Tuesday at the Republican National Convention. A more specific time had not been announced.

Huckabee and two other former presidential candidates have speaking slots tonight. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is set to go on stage right before Huckabee. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, speaks after Huckabee.

The schedule was just announced. GOP officials are still scrambling to adjust the daily schedule after postponing many Monday activities because of Hurricane Gustav.

Huckabee’s speech got postponed from Tuesday as a result of the altered schedule.

The theme for tonight’s speakers is supposed to be “reform.”

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Chuck Norris fact

Chuck Norris must be too busy grooming the beard that hides his third fist. Why else would he not be at the Republican National Convention with his favorite GOP candidate, Mike Huckabee?

Norris was a constant at Huckabee’s side during Huckabee’s presidential run earlier this year. The actor and star of the television show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” was a huge attention-getter when he criss-crossed the country with the former Arkansas governor.

Some Norris fans even acknowledged coming to a Huckabee rally only to see their action movie hero, Norris.

Huckabee liked to kid that Norris would be his secretary of defense and another supporter, pro wrestler Ric Flair, his secretary of homeland security if he won the presidency.

Norris also was a safe bet to keep Huckabee haters at a distance, lest he have to show off some of his mad tae kwon do skills. Norris is a black belt.

Sarah Huckabee, director of her father’s political action committee, has security covered during the convention.

“I’m filling in for Chuck this week,” she said.

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