Jan 13, 2008

McCain wows them at Livingston County town hall meeting

GENOA TOWNSHIP - Arizona Sen.. John McCain and the Straight Talk Express made a stop in Livingston County’s Genoa Township Sunday for a town hall meeting where he addressed a standing room only crowd on everything from Iraq to the Great Lakes Compact.

The Republican presidential candidate received a warm welcome from the large crowd that jammed inside the Crystal Gardens ballroom, and McCain spoke for more than an hour and answered numerous questions from the audience, taking his message to Michigan voters.

“Michigan’s best days are ahead of us,” he said. “It has been hard and it has been tough for Michigan, but I believe Michigan will lead the way in green technology.
“Michigan saved the word in World War II, and they can do it again,” he said.

McCain won the crowd over with his humor and one-liners, even at the expense of himself and Michigan as he highlighted its economic problems and the loss of population in the Great Lakes state

“I love Arizona, and I am grateful for all of the Michiganders who have come there,” he said. “I just don’t want you to think you have to come there.”

He told the crowd he hopes he is not following in the steps of other Arizona favorite sons who have run for the presidency and failed in their quest, including the father of modern conservatism Sen. Barry Goldwater, former Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Congressman Morris Udall.

“Arizona may be the only state in America where the mothers don’t tell their sons they can grow up to be the president,” McCain joked.

McCain brought an impressive group of people to campaign with him aboard the large Straight Talk Express bus, including the co-chairs of McCain’s Michigan Steering Committee; Michigan Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob and Republican National Committeewoman Holly Hughes. Yob served as the MC, and he led the crowd in chants of “Mac is Back.”

“You know that Michigan is McCain country, and he picked up five more Michigan newspaper endorsements today,” Yob said. “The score was John McCain five, the rest zero.”

In addition to the many local dignitaries and politicians on hand for the rally were U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; former Republican . Congressman Joe Schwarz and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been stumping for McCain across the state.

“We want someone who keeps it real, like the young people like to say,” Pawlenty said. “One of the values we have here in the Midwest is we want a straight shooter.”

It was not all sweets and flowers for McCain, and he was grilled on his immigration policy, and his immigration stance has led to protests and anger at some stops on the campaign trail.

McCain said he wants to secure the borders but offer illegal immigrants some kind of way to become citizens in a sane and humane way that includes some kind of punishment and redemption. He was asked by one audience member to do away with the law that allows the child of an illegal immigrant to automatically become a U.S. citizen

“I want people treated on a case-by-case basis, or at least by category,” he said. “I’m not going to call up a soldier who is serving in Iraq and tell them I’m deporting his mother.”

McCain was also asked to defend his position for voting against making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

“If you cut taxes you have to cut spending, or you will be in the same fiscal instability we are in now,” he said. “We cannot have this fiscal instability and put the future burden on the backs of our children.”

McCain has broke with the Republicans and angered some of the base with his position on global warming to the point he is called a liberal, but he also believes in promoting nuclear power as a way to combat climate change.

“I believe in climate change,” he said. “I will argue that with anybody.”

McCain pledged he would put a stop to the kinds of pork barrel spending that has led to things like Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“In my 24 years I have never received or proposed a pork barrel project for my state,” McCain said. “I will veto any pork barrel project that crosses my desk as president.”

McCain said he initially opposed the Iraq strategy that earned him criticism from his own party, but he is now convinced the surge and current strategy in Iraq are working. He believes Iraq is the key to defeating Al-Qaeda, and he thinks the U.S. should do everything possible to capture Osama Bin Laden.

“I will follow him to the gates of hell,” he said. “I will get Bin Laden, and I know how to do it.”

McCain said part of his war on terror will include increasing health care for the vets actually fighting the war and who have served America in the Armed Forces in the past.

“We are going to have to expand the VA,” he said. “I’m going to give every vet a plastic card they can take to any doctor to get health care.”

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