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Earlier in the day, Obama campaign aide Robert Gibbs told reporters that Mrs. Palin wouldn’t change the election.

“It doesn’t make a ton of difference who that second name is on the bumper sticker,” he said.

Before Mrs. Palin took the stage, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mr. Giuliani all one-time challengers to Mr. McCain spoke, and the jousting for leadership of the conservative movement was apparent.

Mr. Giuliani accused Mr. Obama of flip-flopping on undocumented wiretapping and on taking public financing for his campaign and blasted the Democrat for repeatedly ducking tough votes in his time in the Illinois Senate “nearly 130 times he was unable to make a decision yes or no. It was too tough. He simply voted ‘present.’”

“”I didn’t know about this vote ‘present’ when I was mayor of New York City. Sarah Palin didn’t have this vote ‘present’ when she was mayor or governor. For president of the United States, it’s not good enough to be present. You have to make a decision,” he said.

The man who earned the nickname “America’s mayor” after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks said Mr. Obama has “never had to lead people in crisis.”

“This is not a personal attack, it’s a statement of fact — Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Romney delivered what amounted to a manifesto of party governance, saying the Republican Party needs to combat “pornography, promiscuity and drugs” and fight for families with a father and a mother. He said liberalism has been in control in Washington for the past three decades.

“It is time to stop the spread of government dependency, to fight it like the poison it is,” he said.

Mr. Huckabee brought his particular brand of populist conservatism to the stage, saying he understands those hoping for change this election in the face of high gas prices and housing problems.

“I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me,” said the former Southern Baptist pastor, who easily mixed jokes with harsh barbs against Mr. Obama.

“Barack Obama’s excellent adventure to Europe took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don’t even vote or pay taxes here,” Mr. Huckabee said. “It’s not what he took there that concerns me. It’s what he brought back lots of ideas from Europe he’d like to see imported here.”

Democrats attacked the surrogates, accusing Mr. Giuliani, for example, of being a poor messenger for reform because of charges of cronyism that popped up during his time as mayor.

Mr. McCain was to be officially nominated by his party in a roll-call vote late Wednesday and will address the convention on Thursday. Mrs. Palin also will be officially nominated Thursday.

But Mrs. Palin’s speech may overshadow even Mr. McCain’s performance, with Republicans saying it was the most important event of the four-day convention a chance, for better or worse, to set the conventional wisdom on her for the rest of the campaign.

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