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McCain Comes to Denver, Tries to Make Friends

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John McCain, fresh from his Denver town hall that made nearly as much news for the ticketing of a protester than for what he said, must be a little lonely. After all, the guy lacks support from liberals -- even those who used to have some grudging respect for the man, back when his “Straight Talk Express” was a little more than just another empty political promise. So no help there.

He hasn’t been doing well with many conservatives, either -- especially the religious right, who publicly hated on the guy for months leading up to his official grabbing of the Republican nomination. At which point they went to hating him more privately, for the most part. Only recently have religious leaders started to make noise about supporting McCain (probably because Obama has surprising support from some evangelicals himself—and just like Jesus taught, it’s better to be pragmatic than principled), but that grudging advocacy is in its infancy at best.

There was talk -- mostly by desperate conservative talk-radio hosts whose job in the great Republican machine isn’t so much to buoy their own candidates but to keep throwing punches at their candidates' opposition -- that McCain might draw legions of Hillary Clinton supporters. The theory (or more aptly, the bullshit) was that they felt so disenfranchised that John McCain looked like a more feasible choice for leader of the free world than Barack Obama.

No matter that they as a group disagreed with McCain on almost every issue, especially after McCain abandoned his actual platform and moved to Bush lite. This was an emotional decision, supposedly. Which, to be fair, probably made sense to those who held this belief, since Hillary supporters were largely women, and talk-radio groupies tend to think that women as a gender are weak-minded in matters of government, unreasonable in thought and manner, and make decisions based primarily on vanity. (Ironic, given that this far better describes conservative talk radio hosts than any woman I’ve ever known.) But since all this was complete and utter crap, it’s never materialized.

But McCain’s campaign -- which I’m now calling the "Will You Be My Friend?" Tour -- seems to be working in some small way, based on the coverage in the July 8 Rocky Mountain News of McCain's Denver appearance on July 7, which was largely spent discussing economic issues related to the average Coloradan. "I have a plan," McCain said at Monday’s Denver Town Hall Meeting, "to reform government, achieve energy security, and ensure that health care and a quality education are affordable and available to all." (No word on that spinning-straw-into-gold thing, nor on the eternal quest to actually force political leaders to accomplish what they promise in campaigning.)

All the requisite audience members are there to suggest a wide base of support: the staunch Republican father with his teenybopper proto-conservative daughter (at least until she gets out from under his roof); the spunky old lady who doesn’t trust government or want to be taxed (just don’t screw with her social security checks); and the rabid conservative who brings up the Monica Lewinsky smoke and mirrors completely out of context, calling it a "mindless and pathetic sexual act" (as compared to a mindless and pathetic act of war, I guess).

So maybe John McCain is making friends and influencing people. Or maybe his handlers (and the local press) are just doing a good job making it seem that way. -- Teague Bohlen


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