The race is on.
After two weeks of presidential conventions, the race for the White House now moves into high gear with the John McCain/Sarah Palin Republican ticket facing off against the Barack Obama/Joe Biden Democratic candidacy.
Democrats staged a well-orchestrated gathering in Denver topped off with Obama delivering his address before a crowd of up to 89,000 wildly enthusiastic supporters in Denver's Invesco Field football stadium.
Chances are a high percentage of Democrats, those in Denver as well as throughout the country, thought their quest for the White House was a fairly good bet, considering how the Bush administration had been beaten up over the past eight years, the war and more than 4,000 servicemen and women being killed, high gas prices, the housing situation and a 72-year-old opponent who likely would end up picking a relatively lackluster, old-time GOP officeholder as his running mate.
Added to this favorable situation, the liberal television and print media were doing all they could to tout Obama as a superstar who could do no wrong.
As Republican delegates were packing their bags to travel to the Twin Cities for their convention, Hurricane Gustav was headed toward the Gulf Coast.
No one knew where the hurricane, once classified as a possible category four or five killer storm, would make landfall, but officials started to issue mandatory evacuation orders for millions of those living in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities.
GOP officials faced the option of going ahead with the convention, scheduled to open Monday, or possibly delaying the planned four-day gathering for one or more days.
In addition to trying to stage a convention to match what the Democrats had produced in Denver, Republican leaders faced the challenge of squeezing a planned four-day event into a three-day program with many of the main speakers unable to attend.
Added to this was the bombshell dropped by McCain when he announced a relatively unknown Alaska governor, Palin, would be his running mate.
The delay also took away what had been considered an ideal day, Labor Day, which had the potential to help attract millions of television viewers.
There was the added bombshell when it became known Palin's unmarried daughter was five months pregnant.
Everything seemed to be working against McCain and his fellow Republicans.
Four days later, however, Republican hopes were sky high as Palin became an overnight star. From the time she was introduced by McCain at an Ohio gathering prior to the convention until she finished her speech at the national convention, new life, optimism, enthusiasm and excitement had been injected into the convention and the Republican Party. Also, many inner party rifts were healed.
Democrats had Obama, the first African-American to be nominated for the presidency, and the Republicans had Palin, the first Republican woman to be nominated for the vice presidency.
Most of the major GOP speakers at the St. Paul convention did far better in their presentations than many had expected. Palin hit a home run with her words as well as her manner, poise and comfort level in making such an important speech.
The liberal television media, which already was pulling out all guns to try to belittle McCain and Palin, went into a feeding frenzy picturing the Alaska governor as untested and lacking experience.
The viciousness and meanness of these attacks caused many to wonder if this was due to Democratic leaders suddenly waking up to the possibility that the McCain/Palin ticket could be a serious threat. Therefore, Obama, Biden and senior Democratic leaders called on their liberal media friends to go to war against the GOP team.
Whatever the case, Republicans left St. Paul pumped up by the performance of McCain and Palin, confident they could come through with a victory in November.
Clearly any cockiness, arrogance or manners of superiority had been knocked out of those in the Democratic Party who thought the election would be a slam-dunk. As one observer noted, "the bloom has been knocked off of Obama."
"Country First" was the overall theme of the GOP convention with reform, accountability and the promise of a genuine shakeup in the Washington-as-usual scenario among the major points. Republicans also made a strong case that Palin was equally, if not far better, qualified in the "experience" category.
Whereas Obama had been presented as a magnificent savior-type individual and a glorious, gifted speaker, Republicans came across as relatively ordinary, you-get-what-you-see individuals. Unfortunately, some of the elite media crowd went so far as to try to suggest Palin could be looked upon as "trailer trash."
One of the dangerous aspects of the convention was the manner many in the very liberal media fraternity worked. Time and time again they talked about how much fun and exciting the upcoming campaign is going to be and how much they were looking forward to it. They gave the impression that for them it was merely an opportunity to have fun, stir things up and a chance to preach and deliver their wisdom to the uninformed.
Again, the race is on. Hopefully those who vote will be knowledgeable about the various issues and positions taken by the candidates and will be able to separate promises, pledges and grandstanding from reality.