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GOP Convention Notebook Day 5

Parts of these last two convention weeks have been remarkably similar.

In the first two days of their show here in St. Paul, Republicans were distracted by Governor Sarah Palin's surprise selection as Vice President and then by the story of her family.

In Denver last week, the Obama story was overshadowed for two days by the tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, and the focus on Senator Hillary Clinton.

The Republican convention came alive with the third night's speech by Palin. For the Democrats, it was former President Bill Clinton on the third night.

In the day after the Palin speech, the Republican National Committee reported a quick new $1 million in donations. The Obama campaign reported Palin's speech prompted $10 million in contributions.

Last Thursday, Senator Barack Obama stirred up a crowd of more than 80,000 in Denver, with his speech.

Last night in St Paul, John McCain, moved his party, a crowd of less than half Denver's size, but no less enthusiastic.

Both have compelling personal stories: Obama springing from poverty in Chicago; McCain undergoing years of horrific torture as a POW in North Vietnam.

There were tears in the eyes of cheering supporters in the audience last week, and again last night.

Both promise to bring change to the entrenched Washington culture and change to both of their parties in the process. And supporters of both candidates promised to drive the movement to change, with the same chant at the both conventions, here's one party:

["Yes we can" chant by Democratic delegates]

Here's the other:

["Yes we can" chant by Republican delegates]

Can you tell the difference?

Both of these candidates, Senator McCain and Senator Obama, have come a long way in this last year.

At one point, both were down and almost out.

I rode with McCain, when the 'Straight Talk Express' was down to one last extended body passenger van, with two just aides, and empty seats last December, in New Hampshire before the New Hampshire primary, which he won.

I spoke with Obama after he won Iowa and lost New Hampshire, and the question was "was Iowa a fluke?"

In this campaign, they went from back-benchers to front-runners and now they are their party's nominees.

In about 60 days there's one more transition. For one, it's back to the Senate Chamber. For the other, it's on to the duties to of the President-elect.

This program aired on September 5, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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