John McCain uncensored

Salon gets hold of a draft of the maverick senator's speech for the Republican Convention.

By Jake Tapper
Published August 1, 2000 4:20PM (EDT)

[NOTE: After long standing ovation, delegates finally take their seats, ...]

My dear friends.

Well, yes, this isn't the speech I would want to give. I'd much rather be giving an acceptance speech.

[NOTE: Pause for second standing O.]

There's been a lot of speculation that I don't really want Gov. George W. Bush to win. That in my heart of hearts, I'm longing for Bush to lose to Al Gore so that I can run for president again in 2004 and serve my country honorably.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even though poll after poll shows that, with the exception of Gen. Colin Powell, there is no other Republican besides me who has as much appeal to Democratic and Independent voters, I stand behind this ticket. If you'd like to see copies of those polls, by the way, you can get them at the door or at my Web site, at

Anyway, I am confident that Bush can convince swing voters -- the soccer moms of Ohio, the Reagan Democrats of Michigan -- that, compared to Al Gore, he is the better candidate.

After all, the Republican platform as authorized by George W. Bush makes it clear that this country will soon outlaw abortions, all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is at stake. Even when a sickly 11-year-old girl is raped by her developmentally challenged father, George W. Bush will stand against such a young woman being able to get an abortion! Gov. Bush, my friends, stands up for what he believes in!

Take guns. Gov. Bush, this audience will be happy to hear, wants each and every American to be armed and ready. More guns in our streets, in our schools, in our churches. Gov. Bush had the courage to sign not only a law that allows Texans to carry concealed weapons on their person at all times, he even went back and amended the law to allow these concealed weapons in churches and at arcades.

God bless America and God bless the Second Amendment!

What's more, my dear friends, Gov. Bush stands for the proposition put forward in the GOP platform that gays and lesbians are the only group of Americans who are not afforded the same rights as the rest of us.

Mary Cheney, where are you?

[NOTE: Point to Mary Cheney in the audience.]

Mary, your father does not think that you should have the right to adopt a child. He does not believe that it should be illegal for anyone to fire you because of your sexual orientation. I may disagree with that, you may disagree with that, your loving partner -- who is a wonderful person, by the way -- may disagree with that, but that's what your father stands for, that's what the platform committee stands for, and that's what Gov. Bush stands for!

God bless America!

[NOTE: Applause -- possibly another standing O. Water break.]

Once again, Gov. Bush should be applauded for having the courage of his convictions. Despite the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians, this is not a man who needs polls! Even though his campaign spent $600,000 on polls in the primary season alone!

This, my dear friends, this is what Gov. George W. Bush stands for, what he believes in, where he will take America!

Let me say a word or two about Mary's father. Dick, where are you?

[NOTE: Point to Cheney.]

Dick, I remember after your second -- maybe your third -- heart attack, I remember visiting you in the convalescent center. You looked so sickly my friend, like you weren't going to make it, and I remember we had a real heart-to-heart. In addition to talking with you about your DUI conviction, your five military deferments during the Vietnam War, and your votes against outlawing cop-killer bullets and plastic guns, we talked about how much you love your country, and in particular how much you love its oil.

America, Dick, needs you.

[NOTE: If no applause, keep it going. KEEP IT MOVING ...]

I also remember talking with you about our common vote against the House resolution that called for the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the recognition of the African National Congress. While I have since traveled to Soweto to apologize and offer a mea culpa for my stand, Dick, you never have, though I recall you assuring me at the time that you wanted Mandela to be free, but had confused him with that Mumia character.

[NOTE: Applause could be big here. Second water break]

Finally, Dick, I want to thank you for vetting the personal and financial voting records of my dear friends -- vice presidential possibilities like Sen. Jack Danforth and Gov. Tom Ridge and Gov. Frank Keating. Thank you for vetting their records and thank you for having the courage to, in the end, choose yourself as Bush's running mate, despite the risk that such would be a tremendously unpopular decision.

Again, unlike Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Bush and Cheney are not men beholden to what the public wants. Who knows what surprises they have in store for us, other than giving themselves and their fellow multimillionaire oil buddies a big tax break!

My good and very dear and good and dear friends, a lot of people told me during the primaries that Gov. Bush only beat me by cheating. By telling lies about me and my record. By having his sleazy allies drag my wife and adopted Bangladeshi daughter, Bridget, through the South Carolina mud. By standing next to a whacko fringe veteran and having the temerity to challenge my war record even though I've never once mentioned his draft-dodging or what he was doing while I was serving five-and-a-half years in a POW camp.

But such is not the case, my fellow Americans. That's just how Bush won South Carolina. He won the whole shebang by having his sleazy Texas cronies exploit the very loopholes in the campaign law I've devoted my life to eradicating!

[NOTE: Hold for applause.]

Regardless, my dear friends, Gov. Bush is the nominee and he is an American. And he is an American whose father served honorably in World War II.

And now is the time that we, as loyal Republicans, need to rally around our nominee, regardless of his ability to write his name in the sand with a stick!

George W. Bush has been the choice of the Republican powers, and it's their bed, and they made it, so let them sleep in it!

On to New Hampshire!

[NOTE: Thunderous applause; another standing O. Do the "thumbs up." You could be carried through the crowd and drafted for president. Do not accept. They had their chance. Let them come to you after Bush loses.]

Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper is the senior White House correspondent for ABC News.

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