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McCain to Wave Reform Banner

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona will tout his “record of reform” tonight during his acceptance speech before the Republican National Convention — a direct challenge to his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Obama has based his campaign on his ability to change how the business of government is done. McCain will “call on Washington to start putting country first, ahead of our self interests,” said Mark Salter, a top McCain aide who took the lead role in crafting the speech. Salter, who briefed reporters today by phone, said McCain will also discuss his “preparedness to lead,” the issues on which he differs from Obama, and “where and how and why he wants to lead the country.”

Convention officials have altered the stage for tonight’s speech, rolling a ramp out into the audience to give McCain’s appearance a more intimate feel. McCain has a “comfort level for himself being around people,” campaign manager Rick Davis said. Also appearing tonight are McCain’s wife, Cindy; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; and former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

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