ST. PAUL — Senator John McCain, the former prisoner of war whose bid for the White House appeared in complete collapse just one year ago, accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday with a pledge to move the nation beyond “partisan rancor” and narrow self-interest after a convention filled with blistering attacks on his opponent, Barack Obama.
Standing in the center of an arena here, surrounded by thousands of cheering Republican delegates, Mr. McCain firmly signaled that he intended to seize the mantle of change that Mr. Obama has claimed in his own unlikely bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Mr. McCain suggested that his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running-mate gave him the license to run as an outsider against Washington, even though Mr. McCain has served in Congress for more than 25 years.
“Let me offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second Washington crowd: Change is coming,” Mr. McCain said in remarks prepared for delivery.
With his speech, Mr. McCain laid out the broad outlines of his general election campaign as he sought to move from a convention marked by an intense effort to reassure the party base to an appeal to a broader general election electorate that polling suggests has turned sharply on Republicans and President Bush. To that end, Mr. McCain tried to return to what had been his signature theme as a presidential candidate, including in his unsuccessful 2000 campaign: that he is a politician prepared to defy his own party.