August 26, 2018 10:35 PM
The late Sen. John McCain will forever be linked in political history with the state of Minnesota. He reached the pinnacle of his political career when he accepted the GOP presidential nomination on Sept. 4, 2008, at the Republican National Convention at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"I have the privilege given few Americans, the privilege of accepting our party's nomination for president of the United States," McCain said to thunderous cheers on the convention's final night. Along with a newcomer to the national stage, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, he promised that "change is coming."
For months prior to that night, speculation centered on then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota as a strong contender to be McCain's running mate. However, McCain kept his decision-making process very tightly controlled and refused to engage in any public speculation, even dodging the question at a "Town Hall" meeting in St. Paul.
"Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would make an excellent vice president," an audience member said to much laughter because he asked the question with Pawlenty sitting right in front of McCain. "What do you think? What are his chances?"
McCain didn't take the bait.
"I wouldn't like to speculate on who the vice presidential candidates are," he responded while Pawlenty laughed.
He also wouldn't answer the question the next day in a one-on-one interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. However, he did express plans to fight to be the first Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota since 1972.
"I think we can compete here and I intend to compete here and I know it's going to be tough," he said in the interview. "I'm aware of the history you just pointed out."
Ultimately, McCain lost to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama by 10 points, 54 percent to 44 percent.
But in the process, McCain earned the respect of Republicans and Democrats across the state with his refusal to engage in a dirty political campaign.
At a campaign stop in Lakeville one woman wanted him to denounce Obama as a "Muslim," and another wanted him to go after Obama in an upcoming debate.
"The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight," a man in the audience told McCain.
McCain said he would fight, but he would do so cleanly.
"We want to fight and I will fight," McCain responded. "But we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him."
McCain was quickly interrupted by some booing. But he quickly shut them down.
"No, no. I want everyone to be respectful and let's make sure we are," he said.
That's one of many reasons why McCain will always be remembered as a statesman and patriot in Minnesota and across the country.
Updated: August 26, 2018 10:35 PM
Created: August 26, 2018 06:13 PM
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