John McCain and Sarah Palin got a rousing welcome Friday to the final two months of the presidential campaign, stressing themes of a strong America and concern about the sinking economy. "Tough times all over America," McCain said.
Big crowds cheered the Arizona senator and Alaska governor as they made their post-convention debut in Democratic-leaning Wisconsin and Michigan, presenting themselves as a team of REFORMERS eager to challenge Washington's political establishment.
"John McCain doesn't run with the Washington herd," said Palin, McCain's running mate.
"It's over. It's over. It's over for the special interests," McCain promised.
"We're going to start working for the people of this country."
Twelve hours after leaving the Republican convention in Minnesota, McCain and Palin were cheered and applauded by a throng of thousands that wound down several streets of Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
Later, they appeared before thousands who filled Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Michigan's Macomb County, home to working-class, union voters who Republicans hope to win.
"These are tough times for many of you, in the state of Michigan, times are tough," McCain said. He said many people here were worried about keeping their jobs and putting food on the table.
"Send a team of mavericks who aren't afraid to go to Washington and break some china," McCain said.
The Republican team plans to campaign together in hotly contested states - Wisconsin and Michigan on Friday, Colorado and New Mexico on Saturday - and then go their separate ways. Palin is expected to return to Alaska just briefly and then go back to the campaign trail, perhaps on Monday.
"Change is coming, change is coming," McCain promised the audience.