McCain and Palin in Bethlehem: A live report!

McCain 2008 Palin
The Heels come to Allentown. The crowd reacts. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

2:52 p.m.

Here's the close of McCain's speech:

You don’t have to hope that things will change when you vote for me.  You know things will change, because I have been fighting for change in Washington my whole career.  I’ve been fighting for you my whole life.  That’s what I’m going to do as President of the United States.  Fight for you and put the government back on the side of the people.

2:50 p.m.

It's McCain's turn and he, too, is touting his Homeowner Resurgence Plan, which he announced during the debate last night. "The dream of owming a home should not be crushed under the weight of a bad mortgage."

And then he spends most of his time making the case against Obama, to a crowd that chants "No-ba-ma! No-ba-ma!"

He blames Obama and Senate Democrats for some of the excesses by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that helped cause the foreclosure crisis that led to the financial mess. And he goes after Obama on taxes, health care and many of the other issues discussed in the debate last night. In many ways, the speech is a reprise of the indictment of Obama that McCain laid out in New Mexico on Monday.

"Sen. Obama and I both have differences with how President Bush has handled the economy. But he thinks taxes are too low, and I think spending is too high."

And he promises to fight for the middle class, saying he has done so all his life. And then, suddenly, it is over, the hall empties, and the campaign moves on to Ohio.

2:25 p.m. 

By the way, the Philadelphia Flyers have just announced that Palin will drop the puck for their regular-season opener on Saturday night. In honor of Palin, the Flyers have been conducting a search for "the ultimate hockey mom." Comcast-Spectacor President Ed Snider described Palin as "the most popular hockey mom in North America."

2:20 p.m.

Sarah Palin has started speaking, predicting victory and talking up John McCain's performance in the debate last night. Said Palin: "The choice is between a politician who puts his faith in government and a leader who puts his faith in you." She also talks about McCain's plan to have the federal government buy up and renegotiate mortgages to help people keep their homes.

1:50 p.m.

The stars still haven't come out. But the warmup speeches brought this response from the McCain campaign.

“We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric which distracts from the real questions of judgment, character, and experience that voters will base their decisions on this November.” – Paul Lindsay, McCain-Palin spokesman.

 1:05 p.m.

John McCain and Sarah Palin haven't arrived at Stabler Arena on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem yet. But about 6,000 people have, and the warmup speeches have been a little on the tough side.

Here's a sample of the rhetoric from Bill Platt, the Lehigh County Republican Chairman, who talked about Obama's reluctance to wear an American flag lapel pin: "Certainly Barack Obama can learn a thing or two from John McCain about what it means to be a patriot." Then he asked the crowd to work for the Republican ticket: "Think about you'll feel on Nov. 5 if you see the news that Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, is president of the United States."