Continued from page 2

Mr. Obama’s slide in the polls and a strong performance at a faith forum three weeks ago by Mr. McCain had begun to thaw the conservative base.

Mrs. Palin, Hurricane Sarah, as some pundits have taken to calling her, turned the heat way up. Her selection instantly galvanized the pro-life, gun-rights and fiscal conservative groups who make up the backbone of Republicans’ turnout operation.

Her audience extends beyond just the base: A reported 37.2 million viewers watched her address on cable and broadcast television networks, or 13 million more than watched her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., last week, and only 1 million fewer than watched Mr. Obama accept his party’s nomination.

Democrats yesterday offered barbed compliments, with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius saying she delivered the speech well but arguing that Mrs. Palin was just reading “words written by the Bush speechwriters.” Republicans said that was patronizing and insulting to Mrs. Palin by implying she was parroting someone else rather than saying what she believed.

The speech was apparently good for Democrats as well as Republicans. Mr. Obama’s campaign reported raising at least $8 million by midafternoon Thursday and was on track to raise $10 million in the 24 hours after Mrs. Palin spoke.

“Sarah Palin’s attacks have rallied our supporters in ways we never expected,” spokesman Bill Burton said. “And we fully expect John McCain’s attacks tonight to help us make our grass-roots organization even stronger.”

In a fundraising letter Thursday evening, Mr. Obama said the barbs from the stage at the Republican convention this week amounted to “attacking ordinary people,” and another fundraising letter from the campaign manager after Mrs. Palin’s speech accused her of having “lied about Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

In Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, the country is watching a debate between the most anti-Iraq war major candidate from the Democratic primaries and the staunchest pro-Iraq war candidate from the Republican primaries. And more than five years after it began, the war continued to dominate the sparring Thursday.

In an interview aired on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” during the Republican convention, Mr. Obama said the troop surge “has succeeded in ways nobody anticipated.”

“I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.

The Republican National Committee said that means Mr. Obama was “on the wrong side of history” for opposing what he now acknowledges was a success, and Mr. McCain’s right-hand man, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said the war remains the central debate of the campaign.

“Barack Obama’s campaign is built around us losing in Iraq,” Mr. Graham told the convention. “We should all be grateful that Barack Obama was unable to defeat the surge. The surge was a test for Barack Obama. He failed miserably.”