ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) -- The main speakers at the Republican National Convention took time out from the program of lauding John McCain's service Tuesday night to come to the defense of his pick for running mate, Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin has had more executive experience than Barack Obama, Republicans said Tuesday.
Fred Thompson led the charge, berating "Washington pundits and media big shots" who have questioned her experience as a first-term governor of Alaska.
"She is from a small town, with small-town values, but that's not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family," he said to cheers.
"Let's be clear ... the selection of Gov. Palin has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic. She is a courageous, successful reformer who is not afraid to take on the establishment," he added. Watch Thompson endorse Palin »
Thompson said Palin has the experience needed in Washington, calling her "a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit."
Speaking after Thompson, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, also called Palin "a reformer" and said, "she's taken on the special interests and the political power brokers in Alaska and reached across party lines to get things done."
Lieberman said that together, McCain and Palin would break through Washington bureaucracy.
"The Washington bureaucrats and the power brokers are not going to be able to build a pen that will hold in these two mavericks," he said.
And President Bush said McCain could govern in Washington with "an outstanding leader at his side."
Earlier, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said Palin's experience bests Barack Obama's.
"If you look back at the legislative career of Sen. Obama, he voted 'present' instead of taking a position, I think, 100 times. You will never find that in Sarah Palin.
"She is there. She is counted. She will listen, but she will act," Thompson said.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former contender for the GOP nomination, touched on the experience argument.
"Barack Obama is not ready. Barack Obama's never run a city, never run a state, never run an agency, never run a business, never made a payroll, has never really negotiated," Giuliani said.
The media have scrutinized Palin considerably more than they have Obama, he said.
"Why did Barack Obama get a pass on his experience? And why is Sarah Palin's experience, which, from the executive point of view, is considerably more than Barack Obama's, under such scrutiny?" Giuliani asked.
The GOP leaders didn't touch on the other controversies swirling around Palin, including the pregnancy of her 17-year-old daughter.
In her speech to the convention, first lady Laura Bush mentioned Palin in the company of prominent women in her husband's administration, including Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. iReport.com: Share you reaction to RNC speeches
"I am proud that America's first female vice president will be a Republican woman," Laura Bush said.