Barbecue and Politics
McCain visits Houston shortly before a big Texas win
Republican presidential hopeful, Senator John McCain campaigns at Goode's Armadillo Palace in Houston, Texas, Tuesday, March 4, 2008, the day of the Texas presidential primary election. (Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The aroma of barbecue filled the room as country music played. An eager crowd packed local Houston hangout Armadillo Palace, awaiting the arrival of presidential hopeful Senator John McCain. McCain crisscrossed Texas on election day Tuesday as he worked to clinch the Republican nomination. By the end of the day, he had his prize, with decisive wins in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
While voters were still going to the polls, McCain met with enthusiastic supporters in Houston. They waved homemade signs with slogans that included "Don't be Insane-Vote 4 McCain," "Seal The Deal," and " Go, Johnny, Go."
McCain thanked his supporters and told them to enjoy "the best barbecue in America today."
He told t he crowd he was there to ask for their vote. "We should exercise this great privilege and this great right," he said. "I am glad to see that there will be a very large voter turnout to today. That is what we want the world to see and that is how we can best guarantee a bright future and a good future for this nation."
McCain was accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and his 23-year-old daughter Meghan, who writes a blog called McCainBloggets.com. McCain encouraged the crowd to visit the Web site, which he said with a grin "gives a totally unbiased and objective view of the campaign."
He then launched into the central issues of his campaign. "I believe that free trade is good for America," he said. "I believe that free trade is good for Texas." McCain was alluding to the position of the Democrats in the race, who have both said that parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement should be changed.
McCain said he wanted to make the tax cuts enacted by President George W. Bush permanent. He railed against congressional spending habits.
"I am going to keep spending under control," he said. "When government spends your money, it is bad, When people spend their own money and don't give it to the government, that is good."
He also addressed the conflict in Iraq. "We will never surrender," he said of the five-year-long battle. "The new strategy and the surge are succeeding, despite what the Democrats will tell you."
In a look back at the previous summer, McCain remembered when no one thought his campaign could possibly be successful. "I was reminded of the words of Chairman Mao [former leader of China] who said that there is always darkness before it is totally black," he said, joking.
McCain concluded the meeting by saying that "town hall meetings are the key to democracy in America."
What Supporters Say
Zeke Smith, an undecided Republican, told Scholastic News he came to the event to learn more about McCain's views on the issues.
"I am actually undecided, so I came here to hear him speak," Smith said. "I am a Republican, so I came here to listen to his views on taxes, the economy, national security, and the pursuit of alternative energy and becoming energy- independent."
John Larue has attended several of McCain's events in Houston. He was at the town-hall-style meeting to show his support for the Arizona Senator.
"I support McCain because I am a conservative," he said. "He has the best chance of winning. I think that he offers better solutions than are offered by the Democrats."
Angela Gutierrez also attended the event to show support for McCain. "I feel strongest about immigration, and I agree with his stance on immigration," she said.
Robert Mosbacher Sr., who introduced McCain before the event, talked to Scholastic News about his support for McCain. Mosbacher served as Secretary of Commerce under President George H. W. Bush, from 1989 to 1992.
"McCain will keep our country safe, not just for my generation or even your mom and dad's generation, but for your generation," he said. "We need to show a strong position in Iraq."
According to a McCain aide, the Republican nominee will go to lunch with President George W. Bush at the White House on Wednesday. President Bush is expected to officially endorse McCain's candidacy.
Meanwhile, the Democrats will soldier on to the next contests. Wyoming voters will caucus on Saturday, while Mississippi will hold a primary on March 11.
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Michelle Sheena is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.