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Republicans: Look beyond Democrats' rhetoric

  • Story Highlights
  • Democrats did well, but voters need more than speeches, McCain spokesman says
  • GOP congresswoman: Democrats' talk of change is "same rhetoric" of decades
  • Michael Reagan: Michelle Obama needed to address patriotism questions better
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(CNN) -- Some Republicans on Monday conceded the Democratic National Convention's first day featured some charismatic speeches, but they urged the public to look beyond rhetoric and see that the GOP's presidential candidate has an edge in substance.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds says Americans will need to "rely on more than a few convention speeches."

Rep. Marsha Blackburn told CNN's "Larry King Live" that the Democrats' talk of change didn't ring true.

"I felt like I was hearing the same rhetoric that I'd been hearing since the '60s, when I started listening to and following political conventions," Blackburn, of Tennessee, said. "There was not a newness there."

The Democrats' convention, which opened Monday night in Denver, will culminate Thursday when Sen. Barack Obama accepts his party's nomination for president. The opening night featured speeches by Sen. Edward Kennedy -- only his second public appearance since having surgery for a brain tumor in June -- and Obama's wife, Michelle.

Tucker Bounds, spokesman for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, had kind words for both speakers. He said Kennedy's appearance "was a moving moment for everyone," and Michelle Obama's remarks were "well delivered" and "really impressive." Video Watch Bounds' reaction to Monday's convention speeches »

Bounds, however, stressed the speeches were just speeches, and he suggested that McCain had the upper hand in substance.

"I wouldn't take anything away from [Michelle Obama's remarks] other than to say that this is an important election, this is a big choice for the American people, and they're really going to have to rely on more than a few convention speeches," Bounds said.

He said McCain's focus on reforming Washington, work with both parties, and "his willingness to keep taxes low and grow jobs" are "a good agenda for America."

"We feel good about where we are," Bounds said. Other McCain backers on "Larry King Live" Monday night were more critical of Michelle Obama's speech.

Talk show host and author Michael Reagan took issue with what he said was her attempt to answer critics' questions about patriotism.

Michelle Obama stirred controversy earlier in the campaign season when she said she was really proud of the United States for the "first time" in her adult life. In Monday's speech, she said she loved her country.

"She has to answer the question about, 'Am I proud to be an American' ... I think she could have done more," Reagan said.

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Conservative commentator Ben Stein said Michelle Obama's speech "was just a mass of cliches." He took issue with her comments about her background as a mother and wife.

"I don't get what is so impressive about her. Lots and lots of people are mothers. Lots and lots of people have sick fathers. Lots and lots of people have children," Stein said.

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