NPR News analyst Juan Williams was at the Republican Convention all week. He's on his way home now. We got him by phone at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. Juan, you've heard the speeches this week, last week. What is this campaign about?

JUAN WILLIAMS: Well, Alex, I think we've known since the primary that it's really about change. That's the mantra that Barack Obama used to defeat Hillary Clinton, and it's what John McCain used to defeat, sort of, the right-wing base of the party and the right-wing talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and gain the nomination. But you can really see it play out at the conventions.

You've heard Barack Obama talk about the need for change, the change from war, the change from a bad economy, the change from hyper-partisanship that the Republicans have come to embody. And here at the Republican Convention, you heard them talk about reform. That's what John McCain and Sarah Palin represent.


Well, Juan, here's a clip of John McCain trying to address this issue of the economy and the unease that people have about it out there. We're talking today about unemployment figures being up now and here's a clip from him from last night.

(Soundbite of speech, 2008 Republican National Convention, September 4, 2008)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee): Government assistance for unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That's going to change on my watch.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Sen. MCCAIN: Now, my opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We're going to help workers who've lost a job that won't come back find a new one that won't go away.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

BRAND: Juan Williams, he also talked about cutting government spending. So, what's he - what is he talking about here?

WILLIAMS: He says, you know what? There's no way to bring back jobs that don't exist, that he's intent on creating new jobs in a global economy and retraining people. What John McCain said yesterday was, thanks to the Republicans in the room, but I'm really talking to all of you out in TV land who haven't decided who you're going to vote for. And so he's trying to paint himself as this guy who knows how to help people, who's been through the wars literally, and has a higher standing in their minds. Don't take the risk on the young man. Stick with me, tried and true.

CHADWICK: Walking around that convention this week, Juan, what struck you?

WILLIAMS: Well, the key thing from a political point of view, Alex, is the delegations. Both the Democratic and Republican Conventions had delegations from Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin front and center. Even yesterday when they had to rearrange the stage for John McCain's speech, they had to split the Ohio delegation. Well, the Ohio delegation that got split off, they didn't get pushed to the back. They just got pushed in front of everybody else on another side of the arena. So, what you see is that for all the talk about the Mountain West, really, this election's going to be decided through a swath of the Midwest. That's where the play is, and that's where the candidates wanted their message heard most clearly and especially among those delegations.

BRAND: And that is exactly where the two candidates are today, Barack Obama in Scranton, and John McCain in Wisconsin, and NPR news analyst Juan Williams somewhere else.

WILLIAMS: Going home. Going home, Madeleine.

BRAND: OK, good. Juan Williams, thank you.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from