Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John McCain Articles 10/30/07

Red State Blog: Why I Am Endorsing Sen. John McCain
By Jerry Zandstra
Grand Rapid Press Blog: Zandstra Switches Endorsement To McCain

U.S. News And World Report’s News Desk Blog: McCain Plans 'Comeback Kid' Surge
By Paul Bedard

Chicago Tribune: McCain's Wars

Shaped by Vietnam, he embraces Iraq in his maverick '08 run
By Jill Zuckman
Ft. Mill, S.C.

Ray Dunsmore, a restaurant manager and Vietnam veteran, stood before Sen. John McCain inside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9138 and shyly told him the story of their connection.

It came from a discovery by Dunsmore's wife, Phyllis, who was rummaging through a box of old jewelry and found the POW bracelet her husband had worn until 1973, when American prisoners held during the Vietnam conflict were released.

He hadn't touched it for more than 30 years and didn't remember the prisoner's name. It was John McCain.

Dunsmore held up the metal bracelet -- part of a national effort to keep faith with prisoners of war and those missing in action in Southeast Asia -- and he and McCain embraced.

McCain, his voice low and husky, said he would be honored if Dunsmore kept the bracelet. Then he bent down and kissed Dunsmore's wife, thanking her for finding it.

That Friday night inside the smoky, cinder-block hall was just one in an endless string of stops for McCain as he uses his presidential campaign to make the case for the Iraq war, but with the specter of his Vietnam War experience always close at hand.

As he sat in a gray leather swivel chair aboard his "No Surrender" campaign bus, McCain was asked to measure the moment.

"Actually, it happens a lot," he said, shrugging off whatever emotions had just washed over him.

Which is to say that many people once wore his bracelet and later connected it to the remarkable life story of John McCain. The military pedigree of his family -- and McCain's heroic 5 1/2 years as a POW in Hanoi -- has been the stuff of books and a movie. The power of his life story provided voters in the 2000 presidential race with a window into his character and an explanation for his "straight talk."

Now, in 2008, as he runs for president a second time -- at age 71 -- McCain's Vietnam experience offers a way to understand what he is all about and his deep support for the Iraq war -- an issue that has helped hobble his campaign since the beginning of the year when he began his quest as the unquestioned front-runner for the Republican nomination. McCain's Vietnam experience also was part and parcel of the maverick, truth-telling persona that propelled him in 2000, crushing George W. Bush in New Hampshire. After Bush went on to win the GOP nomination and the presidency, McCain not only supported his former rival's decision to go to war, he went further than the Bush administration in a call for more troops, more equipment and a more aggressive strategy.

But McCain's highly public support for the president has angered some of his admirers. As he prepared to run for president again, McCain built a large, staff-laden organization. His aides expected him to be able to raise a formidable amount of money. They were wrong.

Instead, McCain saw his campaign crumble this summer. The president he had become so closely associated with has become even more unpopular than the war. McCain fired his top campaign aides who had churned through millions of campaign dollars, and he slashed staff.

He now finds his fundraising numbers compared to the campaign of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul instead of the financially formidable Rudy Giuliani. His poll numbers collapsed nationally and in important early voting states. What is more, he doesn't have an obvious group of people within his party's base to support him.

So by necessity more than design, McCain set out to reconnect with the spirit of his first campaign, returning to his live-off-the-land, win-them-with-candor approach. In the process, voters have begun to give him a second look. His is, after all, a life marked by second chances.

"McCain's two most dominant traits are his restlessness and his fortitude," said Mark Salter, McCain's longtime chief of staff and co-author of five best-selling books. "You just can't keep him down."

The son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, McCain was just 5 years old when his father left to command submarines during World War II. His grandfather also served in that war, witnessing Japan's official surrender aboard the USS Missouri -- just five days later he died from a heart attack.

That McCain would follow his father and grandfather to the Naval Academy was never in doubt, but the record he left -- graduating fifth from the bottom of his class after years of carousing and rule breaking -- wasn't one of distinction.

It was the place, though, where his sense of what's right was forged, a deep-seated feeling that informs his decisions today to go against public opinion on issues such as the war in Iraq.

"Once he gets on the right course and he knows he's on the right course, he doesn't change direction," said George "Bud" Day, a retired Marine colonel and Medal of Honor winner who was McCain's prison cellmate.

Yet it is not always easy to understand McCain's capacity to go for long stretches virtually alone when no one else will stand with him.

Politically unpopular efforts such as his push for a broad overhaul of immigration laws, or his warnings about global climate change often seem to hurt more than they help him, at least among the Republican faithful.

His biographer, Robert Timberg, calls him "an equal opportunity antagonist," and attributes McCain's often solitary crusades to a sense of freedom earned after years of torture and near death in a North Vietnamese prison.

"I don't think there's any question that having survived what he survived and at the end of it, looking back and realizing what he had done to survive, I think that gave him a kind of steel," said Timberg, who chronicled McCain's life in "The Nightingale's Song."

McCain's path to prison began when his plane was shot down 40 years ago over Hanoi. While ejecting from the A-4E Skyhawk, McCain broke his right knee and both his arms, then crashed into a lake in the center of the North Vietnamese capital in broad daylight.

He nearly drowned, but a group of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers pulled him out, only to kick him, shove a bayonet into his left ankle and groin, and smash a rifle butt into his shoulder. Eventually he was carted off to the Hoa Lo prison, dubbed the Hanoi Hilton by its American captives.

Savage abuse

Like others, he was subjected to savage, continual abuse, as his captors broke his arm, leg and ribs, and knocked out his teeth. His spirit broke, too, and he tried unsuccessfully to kill himself after penning a forced -- and false -- confession.

"Everybody had a bad time. John had a worse time than most," said Mike Cronin, a Navy fighter pilot who spent six years in prison.

Because his captors knew McCain's father was a high-ranking Naval officer, they repeatedly offered McCain an early release to win a round in the ongoing propaganda war. He refused, earning himself additional beatings.

But when McCain and his fellow POWs are together on the campaign trail, they put a poignant, almost positive gloss on the stories they tell -- the tap code system they used to secretly communicate, the "classes" they taught each other, the religious services they held. They talked incessantly about how they would serve the nation if they ever left prison.

"I think we all felt if we got out, we had a special responsibility to keep contributing to the country," said John Borling, a retired U. S. Air Force major general who lives in Rockford.

McCain returned home to a hero's welcome and a stint as the Navy's Senate liaison on Capitol Hill. He later divorced his first wife and married his second, Cindy, starting a new life and a new family in Arizona. That new life included an immediate jump into elective politics, running and winning a House seat in 1982.

After two dozen years in Congress, McCain is making his second run for the presidency. But should he win, he would at age 72 be the oldest person ever to take office, as well as the first cancer survivor, after several bouts with melanoma.

To be sure, few candidates have run for president with such an inspiring personal story. The question now is whether that story is enough to persuade voters that he has what it takes to win the war and to win the fight against Islamic extremism.

McCain's challenge is to make his strong-willed persona a positive -- being resolute in the face of difficulty -- instead of seeming obstinate and unwilling to listen.

"What people don't want is someone who looks stubborn, because that's what they think they have now," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), McCain's partner on campaign finance legislation who opposes the war to the same degree that McCain supports it.

So, is McCain stubborn?

"He can be. He isn't always," said Feingold, adding that "his stubbornness was of enormous value on many occasions."

Stubborn or not, when some political observers declared his 2008 candidacy dead this summer, McCain soldiered on, arguing that he could out-campaign all of his better-financed opponents.

Legislatively, McCain has spent his career as the patron of seemingly lost causes. It took him seven years to change campaign finance laws to eliminate unlimited and unregulated political contributions. He spent 10 years trying to pass a line-item veto, though once he succeeded the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

He annoyed his colleagues in the Senate to no end as he fought the pork-barrel projects that they tried to attach to legislation.

Defied Reagan

He even defied his hero, President Ronald Reagan, by refusing to back Reagan's request for a War Powers Act to keep Marines in Lebanon. In an ironic echo of the debate over Iraq, McCain questioned the purpose of the troops' presence and called for a rapid withdrawal.

McCain's willingness to buck both conventional wisdom and his party has earned him the distrust of the political establishment but has also added to his appeal among voters.

"I prefer to think of John as the irritant that makes the oyster produce the pearl," said Paul Galanti, a fellow prisoner of war in Hanoi.

During the 4 1/2 years of the Iraq war, McCain has seemed increasingly isolated. As early as 2003, he was complaining that more troops were needed in Iraq and the troops already there did not have adequate resources. He was among the very first in 2004 to say he had no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"John saw the situation on the ground in Iraq differently than everybody else, or others saw it and were afraid to speak out," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). "He was exercising leadership to his political detriment by arguing with the administration."

McCain, on the other hand, does not ascribe much nobility to his criticisms.

"It was like watching a train wreck," he said.

Support for Petraeus' strategy

In recent months, he has made it his campaign's core mission to rally support for the counterinsurgency strategy fashioned by Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq.

"This is a tough slog my friends;, this is a very tough slog," he told the veterans assembled in Fort Ft. Mill. But it is an essential fight, he says, to defeat the threat of terrorists.

"I believe with all my heart and everything that's in me that if we decide to leave Iraq there will be chaos, there will be genocide and they will follow us home," McCain said. "I'm not prepared to let that happen. We cannot choose to lose."

What about the political consequences?

"I don't know, and I don't care," he said emphatically, repeatedly insisting that he would rather lose a campaign than lose a war.

His wife, Cindy, similarly brushes off the political consequences, even as she tells audiences that her husband is the only candidate she would trust to oversee the war and make sure their two soldier sons come home safely.

"If we lose this race, it's not the end of the world. We have a great life; we have a great family," she said.

McCain continues to frame his campaign, as he did in 2000, as a cause, appealing to voters' sense of patriotism and duty.

"This is a crucial time in the history of this nation," he tells veterans over breakfast in Rock Hill, S.C. "It's do or die time for America."

In this presidential race, McCain has returned to his famed campaign bus and delights in answering all questions and regaling voters and reporters with cornball jokes.

He also makes fun of himself, like his story about being stopped in an airport by someone who says: "Did anyone tell you look just like Sen. John McCain?" he recounts. "Doesn't it make you mad as hell?"

On the campaign trail, McCain himself rarely talks about his time as a POW. Among other senators, Feingold says, McCain never brings it up, even when fighting the administration to outlaw the use of torture.

"On Foreign Relations [Committee] trips all over the world, we will even talk about torture on the plane, and he is the last person to reference his extremely challenging captivity," says Feingold.

Certainly, McCain insists, he does not romanticize war or its consequences. His war wounds left him unable to raise his arms above his shoulders or to comb his snow-white hair.

"There is no one who understands more than the veteran that war is a horrible thing," he said during a visit to the Hudson, N.H., VFW post. "There's nothing redemptive about it."

But there is something oddly familiar from one war to the next. Ray Dunsmore, and others like him, wore bracelets with John McCain's name on them more than three decades ago.

Today, McCain wears a black bracelet engraved with the name Matthew Stanley, a 22-year-old Army specialist who died in Baghdad shortly before last Christmas.

Stanley's mother, Lynne Savage, stood up at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, N.H., and told McCain that she wore a silver bracelet during Vietnam to support the troops.

Now, she asked, would McCain wear her son's bracelet?

"I told her I would do everything in my power to make sure her son's death was not in vain," he tells voters, the black metal band firmly around his right wrist.

"You know what their message to us is -- 'let us win, let us win' -- like they should have let us win in Vietnam a generation ago."

Monday, October 29, 2007

John McCain Articles - 10/29/07

McCain Hits Clinton in 2nd Woodstock Ad
By PHILIP ELLIOTTThe Associated Press

McCain Marks 40th Anniversary of Crash
By NAFEESA SYEEDThe Associated Press

McCain knocks one out of the park...

Associated Press: See How They Run: Stars Aligning For McCain
By Liz Sidoti

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The stars may be aligning for John McCain. The question is whether the Republican presidential candidate can hitch a ride to success.

''I'm happy with where we are,'' McCain says often these days _ and he should be.

Just a few months ago, the one-time front-runner for the GOP nomination had hit rock bottom, with financial, political and organizational problems so severe that many in the world of politics had written him off.

Today, he's proving he can't be counted out in the extraordinarily fluid nomination race.

''Lots of people pronounced him dead on the table. It's fair to say he went into a vegetative state. Now, he's clearly showing signs of life,'' said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster unaligned in the race who once declared McCain politically dead. ''It's still a long shot, but less of a long shot than it was four months ago.''

The hurdles are, indeed, high.

Money is so tight that McCain hasn't ruled out accepting public financing and the spending limits that come with it. He's still battling the perception that, at age 71, he's too old to be president and that, in his second presidential race, his time has passed. His organization, while more stable than it was during a massive summertime staff shake-up, still is not nearly as strong as those of his top rivals.

Above all, David Winston, another neutral GOP pollster, said: ''He's got the challenge facing every Republican candidate: You've got a great resume, but what's the compelling reason for you to be president?''

Obstacles aside, several forces over the past few weeks appear to have created opportunity for McCain _ or at least shown he's still alive and kicking:

_No one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner. The race remains a muddle. Rudy Giuliani leads in national popularity polls, but he also lags in several early primary states. Fred Thompson has failed to impress in the two months he's been in the race, and he failed to take advantage of McCain's summertime collapse. Mitt Romney has an edge in a few important states, but his support is soft and he's struggling to connect with voters.

_Debate in Washington centered on Iraq last month and on Iran this month, providing McCain a platform to demonstrate his foreign policy expertise on issues that speak to the rationale for his candidacy _ that he has the experience needed to be a wartime commander in chief and his rivals don't. Iraq and Iran are salient issues to Republican voters, who rank foreign policy as their most important concern.

_The military reported substantial progress in the Iraq war, the issue with which McCain is most closely aligned. The top U.S. commander there told Congress last month that the troop buildup, which McCain has promoted for years, was showing signs of curbing violence, even though little political progress has occurred. Also working in McCain's favor: Nearly two in three Republicans continue to back Bush on the war.

_McCain turned in three strong debate performances and was widely lauded by pundits for mixing his trademark wit with his depth of knowledge. At last weekend's debate, McCain mentioned Hillary Rodham Clinton's $1 million funding request for the Woodstock concert museum and earned a standing ovation when he alluded to his 5½ years in a North Vietnamese prison. He said dryly: ''I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.''

_New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner raised the possibility of moving the state's primary ahead of all other contests _ perhaps as early as mid-December. That could spare McCain from having to compete first in the costly Iowa caucuses. He is in single digits in polls in Iowa, but is bunched with others in a tight race in New Hampshire. Forty percent of independents, who helped McCain beat George W. Bush there in 2000, remain undecided. Giuliani, however, also could benefit.

Polls show that although he trails Giuliani and Thompson nationally, McCain still has a double-digit base of support. In recent weeks, he's seen modest upticks in New Hampshire polls, and he gained some ground in Florida and California as Giuliani's lead narrowed.

McCain also is benefiting from his almost-universal name recognition and his willingness to seemingly talk to anyone about anything, which has allowed him to continue to draw a ton of media coverage _ priceless for a financially strapped candidate. For the third straight week, McCain is slated to appear this weekend on a Sunday morning news program.

''We've got to hustle for the next few weeks and see where we are,'' said Charlie Black, a McCain adviser. But he added: ''I'm happy. August was frustration. This is great.''

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Articles/Press Release 10/23/07

For Immediate Release
Contact: Press Office
Monday, October 22, 2007
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement on the release of a purported audio recording of Osama bin Laden:
"The release of another purported Osama bin Laden audio recording reminds us that he and his henchmen must be hunted down and the al Qaeda terror network destroyed. But bin Laden's return to the airwaves to beg for unity in al Qaeda's terror campaign in Iraq is evidence of our success in Iraq, where we have effectively driven al Qaeda from Anbar province, and have them on the run elsewhere. That is a great credit to General Petraeus and the brave Americans he has the honor to command. Evidently, bin Laden has concluded what surge opponents Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the leading Democratic presidential candidates seem incapable of acknowledging: Our troop surge has put al Qaeda on the defensive and security in Iraq -- which bin Laden's top lieutenant calls al Qaeda's central battlefront -- has improved. We will succeed if we don't lose our resolve."
Mr. Wallace and the Republicans


NYT - The Caucus
McCain vs. Clinton?
By Katharine Q. Seelye

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

McCain Articles 10/19/07

The State - Brad Warthen's Blog

Hey, you Republicans! You want to stop McCain, or you want to stop Hillary? It's one or the other

National Review: A Second Look At McCain

Could He Be The Strongest GOPer?

By Kate O’Beirne

Arizona Republic’s McCain Central Blog: McCain Toughest Threat To Clinton, Poll Says

By Dan Nowicki

ABC News’ Political Radar Blog: McCain Gets Standing Ovation In S.C.

By Bret Hovell

Spartanburg Herald-Journal (SC): McCain Calls Health Care System "A Perfect Storm" In Upstate Visit

By Jason Spencer


Greenville News (SC): McCain Campaigns Here For Health-Care Change

Presidential Candidate Charges Business With 'Cowardice' For Backing Universal Plan

By David Dykes

Greenville News (SC): Senator Says He'll Put Border Security First

McCain Says He Gets Immigration Message

By Ben Szobody


CBN’s Brody File Blog: McCain's Remarks At Value Voters Summit

By David Brody


Associated Press: Giuliani's Conservative Support Tenuous



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Thursday, October 18, 2007

McCain Articles 10/18/07

McCain is Back - Joe Klein - Time

McCain Questions Romney's Experience - AARON GOULD SHEININ - The State

Finding Youth In Sun City? - Matt Garfield - Rock Hill Herald (SC)

John McCain: Keeping Faith, On His Own Terms - Linda Feldmann - Christian Science Monitor

McCain Campaigns With Mom In South Carolina - Jim Davenport - Associated Press:

Fox News: Fox News Poll: Third Party Conservative Damages Republican Chances - Dana Blanton - FOX News

Fox News Opinion Dynamics Poll - McCain V Clinton

McCain Takes On His Old Friend, Giuliani - Marc Santora - New York Times’ Caucus Blog

McCain Says Romney Too “Inexperienced” To Be President - Fits News Blog: FITSNews Exclusive

McCain is Energy Party's man in the GOP - The State’s Brad Warthen Blog


Friday, October 12, 2007

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