VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - With just three weeks to go, John McCain is portraying himself as a fighter, ready to lead the country in a new direction.
The rally marked just the second visit by McCain to Virginia since June.
Virginia Beach Rally
Thousands of conservatives from the strongly military Hampton Roads region were excited for the opportunity to see the senator and Gov. Sarah Palin together - plus country star Hank Williams.
McCain struck an urgent tone here noting that he's down in the polls, the national media has written him off and there's just three weeks left to go.
But he also brought optimism to the situation by casting himself as a fighter.
"What American needs in this hour is a fighter, someone who puts all his cards on the table and trusts the judgement of the American people," McCain said.
"Stand up, stand up and fight," he told the crowd. "America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.
Recent campaign stops in the Midwest have drawn angry crowds. That was not the case in Virginia Beach. But palin took notice of such raw emotions and the frustration of many Americans.
"There's anger about the Washington elite, voter fraud," she said. "Let McCain turn anger into experience."
McCain: America Needs Experience
McCain also touted his experience, promising he'll be ready on day one.
"The next President won't have time to get used to the office. He won't have the luxury of studying up on the issues before he acts," McCain said.
The Virginia Beach crowd roared its approval frequently during both McCain's and Palin's speeches. McCain will need that energy if he's to win this key state. Polling shows Sen. Barack Obama with a slight lead right now in The Old Dominion.