ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala and Bret Hovell report: John McCain and Sarah Palin made their first appearance as the official Republican party ticket Friday, at an idyllic Main Street rally in Cedarburg, Wis.
Palin, the vice presidential nominee and governor of Alaska, came out swinging, criticizing rival Barack Obama for initially opposing the troop surge in Iraq, and, as the McCain campaign has repeatedly said, not admitting that it worked.
"But, just last night, Sen. Obama finally broke, and brought himself to admit what all the rest of us have known for quite some time, and that’s, thanks to the skill and valor of our troops, the surge in Iraq has succeeded," Palin said, referring to an answer Obama gave to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Thursday.
In his first appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor," Obama said that the troop surge succeeded "beyond our wildest dreams. ... I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters," he told O'Reilly.
Palin took issue with Obama’s response and reminded voters that McCain initially supported the troop surge."I guess when you turn out to be profoundly wrong on a vital national security issue, maybe it's comforting to pretend that everyone was wrong, too. But I remember it a little differently. It seems to me there was one leader in Washington who did predict success, who refused to call retreat, and risked his own career for the sake of the surge and victory in Iraq, and ladies and gentlemen, that man is standing right next to me -- Sen. John McCain," Palin said.
Despite the staggering job loss numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, McCain largely glossed over the report that 84,000 jobs were lost in the month of August, giving it only a tiny mention in the middle of his speech.
"These are tough times. Today, the job report is another reminder. These are tough times. They're tough times in Wisconsin, they're tough times in Ohio, they're tough times all over America," McCain told the large crowd in Cedarburg.
He did however, have a lot to say about his new running mate, Palin -- who has been credited with helping to energize the conservative base.
"Isn't she the most marvelous running mate in the history of the nation?” McCain asked the crowd. "She's magnificent, and I'm so proud, I'm so proud, my friends."
McCain also had glowing things to say about Palin's professional snowmobiler husband Todd.
"Could I mention her husband Todd? That guy is crazy!" McCain exclaimed. McCain called his 2,000-mile treks in 40 degree-below weather "remarkable." "You'd have to be crazy to do that. But what a guy, a commercial fisherman, union member and a devoted father. What a family."