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Frist Seconds Palin on Switching "Maverick" McCain's Venue

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Response to Wednesday night's speech by GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin drew unanimous raves from members of the Tennessee delegation, both on the floor of the arena when the speech was being given and afterward.

At Wednesday's morning-after breakfast of the Tennessee delegation, 7th District congresswoman Marsha Blackburn said Palin's address would help to make this "the reddest of red-state years in Tennessee" and vowed to do what she could to defend Palin against expected attacks from "the liberal media."

Tennessee Republican chair Robin Smith saw Palin as "a Ronald Reagan in heels," and praised Palin for expressing "our values - he values of family, God, faith."

Speakers at the breakfast were also looking forward to Thursday night's acceptance-speech finale by John McCain, now the Republican presidential nominee after Wednesday night's official roll call.

In his remarks, 3rd District congressman Zach Wamp focused on the unprecedented journey, "the most dramatic in our history," of McCain from his cloistered one-room cell at the "Hanoi Hilton" in Vietnam to the White House.

And former U.S. Senator Bill Frist put a positive spin on the non-conformist aspects of "the maverick, the radical John McCain." Said the former Senate majority leader: "I had to put up with John McCain every single day, and it was hard." But he professed himself to be in agreement with Palin's advocacy in her speech of "tak[ing} the maverick out of the Senate and putting him int he White House."

Frist also told some extended anecdotes about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's tenure in the Senate, which overlapped with his own. Frist characterized Obama a something of a self-aggrandizer more interested in logrolling interplay with the media than with policy matters as such.

As an ironic counterpoint to that, Frist predicted that this year's presidential contest between McCain and Democrat Barack Obama will based more on personality than on issues.

--Jackson Baker

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