McCain's speech - thumbs up, thumbs down

It's like an Ebert and Roeper disagreement on a movie.  One says it's a blockbuster.  The other says it's a dog.  Unlike the reviews of the Palin or the Obama speech, which were almost universally applauded, McCain's speech last night is getting mixed reviews.  And the perceptions couldn't be more stark.

On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin called it a disaster:

"I thought it was the worst speech by a nominee that I've heard since Jimmy Carter in 1980, Toobin said.  "I personally cannot remember a single policy proposal that he made because they had nothing connecting them. I found it shockingly bad."

While NBC's Ann Curry said it was emotional:

"During the speech all around me there were people of all ages, men, women, older, younger, weeping. Lots of tears during John McCain's speech, especially when he spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war."

No, it was boring said the New York Times liveblog:

"Sleepy? Our colleague Patrick Healy reports from the floor: There is a delegate in the Utah section and a delegate in Puerto Rico who are both drooping, eyes closed -- look asleep -- both are men."

Actually, the crowd loved it said the Associated Press:

"His own measured style left the hall in cheers, and as is his habit in campaign stops around the country, he stepped off the stage to plunge into the crowd after his speech."

Disappointing, said Michael Gerson on MSNBC:

"The policy in the speech was rather typical for a Republican. Pretty disappointing. It didn't do a lot of outreach to moderates and independents on issues that they care about. It talked, about issues like drilling and school choice which was really speaking to the converted. I think that was a missed opportunity."

Strong, said Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America:

"The words that he used at the end I thought were strong, and they sort of got lost in the crowd applause."

It's go time 

No matter who you side with, last night's speech marked the end of the pre-season and the beginning of Campaign 2008 (although it's been going on since 2005).  And Romney's already gearing up for 2012.  And the web domains, and are already taken. is available, however.

As if they needed any motivation, both campaigns could check out that scene in the greatest movie ever made - Rocky II - where Adrian wakes from her coma and whispers to Rocky “There’s one thing I want you to do for me. … Win.”

Campaign managers David Axelrod and Steve Schmidt can play the part of Mick responding "What are we waiting fer..."

They weren't waiting fer anything, in fact.  Schmidt and Axelrod were up early seeing who could outdo each other with the "my candidate is more about change than yours, so there."

Schmidt on the Today Show said McCain has a "record of fighting to change" while for Obama change is a "campaign tactic."

Axelrod, over on CBS's "The Early Show" said, "Last night Sen. McCain used the word 'change,' but the policies that he describes were very familiar. ... This isn't change, this is more of the same."

It's off to the battleground states

The same states will see a lot of attention in the next eight weeks.  Those are the battleground states.

Today, the McCain-Palin ticket is in Wisconsin and Michigan.  They're doing the tag-team thing.  Palin's not solo-ing yet.  But if Wednesday's speech was any indication, she'll be on her own very soon.

As for the Obama-Biden duo, they're all over Pennsylvania - but separately.

Their focus?  Totally different says USA Today's Susan Page.

“It's almost as if the two contenders are running in different races,” Page writes. “Democrats calculate that the presidential election will turn on bread-and-butter issues. To judge by their speeches at the convention, Republicans are convinced it will be defined by questions of character and trust.”

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