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A return to politics

ST. PAUL -- The Republican National Convention turned into a real political convention Tuesday night.

It is time to nominate "a real American hero" for president, first lady Laura Bush said of Arizona Sen. John McCain. The first lady and her husband, President Bush, highlighted the second night of the convention that featured typical cheering, speeches and funny hats.

The president, speaking via satellite from the White House, said McCain's time as a Vietnam prisoner of war helped him.

"If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is right for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will," said Bush, in Washington to monitor Hurricane Gustav recovery and other storms aimed at the United States.

Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman told a packed house of 20,000 delegates, alternates, guests and reporters that McCain is a man who can bring people together.

"Both presidential candidates this year talk about changing the culture of Washington, about breaking through the partisan gridlock and special interests that are poisoning our politics," Liebermann said. "But only one of them has actually done it."

The first day was an abbreviated and somber occasion as Hurricane Gustav headed toward the Gulf Coast. The second day turned into a typical convention.

Outside the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, things were much quieter than they were Monday, when nearly 300 protesters were arrested. Dozens remained in jail Tuesday. A couple of hundred protesters marched Tuesday, but few problems were reported.

More protests are expected in the convention's final two days.

Tonight, convention delegates are to officially nominate McCain. The climax of the convention comes Thursday night when McCain takes to the St. Paul stage to accept the nomination.

Delegates Tuesday continued to support vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while many national media reported she faces growing problems with an investigation into the firing of her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. And delegates repeated their support of her unmarried 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy, saying many families have faced similar circumstances.

Two Minnesota politicians who were to speak Monday night took to the stage a day late.

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman delivered the first tough political speech of the convention. The home of the convention, Xcel Energy Center, was built while he was mayor.

"Here we sit in the middle of a great American success story," the first-term senator proclaimed.

The largest employer had left town, unemployment was soaring and "downtown we had the nation's only failed McDonalds," he said.

Building the Xcel, capping taxes for eight years and other changes made St. Paul a much better city, he said.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who serves eastern and northern Twin Cities suburbs in a district stretching northwest to St. Cloud, said: "Some presidential nominees sure know more about service than others," referring to McCain's long military and public service record.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.