Jan 20, 2008
SC win bodes well for McCain in Florida with its heavy military population
It would seem surprising that a U.S. Senator from out west in Arizona would beat out a southern Governor in the heart of Dixie, but that’s what Arizona Senator John McCain did in winning the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Saturday over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
There had to be some tension in the Straight Talk Express camp after finishing a distant third in Nevada on Saturday with just 13 percent of the vote behind the winner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 51 percent and Ron Paul with 14 percent. But South Carolina, with its heavy military veterans and U.S. Navy population, came through for the former Navy pilot with 33 percent of the vote to Huckabee’s 30 percent and another southern favorite son, former Tennessee U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, with 16 percent.
South Carolina is where McCain met a bitter defeat in 2000 that destroyed his presidential hopes against then Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The win has to give the McCain camp a good feeling going in to the upcoming Jan. 29 contest in Florida that also has a heavy military presence.
McCain is a graduate of the Naval Academy, and after receiving his commission, McCain earned his Naval Aviator wings and was flying combat missions over North Vietnam from U.S. aircraft carriers. On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam in 1967, he was shot down and badly injured and spent five years as a POW.
Charleston, S.C. – where McCain set up his election headquarters – once boasted one of the largest naval stations and naval shipyards on the East coast before it was closed during the last base realignment, but many naval veterans chose to retire nearby or stay there after they were discharged to work for a military contractor. One of only two Naval Weapons Stations on the East Coast is located just outside of Charleston in Goose Creek.
Many Navy veterans are well aware of the McCain name, and both his father and grandfather were decorated and respected Navy Admirals. In fact, one of the most powerful naval ships in the world is named for them. The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) is an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer home ported in Yokosuka, Japan. But that is the second Navy ship to bear the McCain name, and the first USS John S. McCain (DDG-36) was commissioned in 1953, serving as a Cold War warrior until it was decommissioned in 1978.
Florida has one of the largest naval bases on the East Coast at Mayport near Jacksonville with two aircraft carriers stationed there, as well as two Naval Air Stations in the Jacksonville area, and Navy bases in Key West, Orlando, Pensacola, Milton and in nearby Kings Gay, Ga.
Romney has a large lead in delegates with 72 to McCain’s 38 followed by Huckabee with 29, but they have a long way to go to reach the magic number of 1,191 to wing the nomination. Florida is the most populace state to hold a primary so far, and the delegates picked up there will be go a long way toward reaching the magic number. However, Florida is in a similar boat as Michigan, and they were penalized with the loss of delegates by the national parties for moving their primary up early just like Michigan.
The polls say McCain has the early lead in Florida with 26 percent of the vote over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 22 percent according to CNN. Giuliani has bet the house on Florida with its large population of transplanted New Yorkers, and Florida is the only place he has campaigned, for the most part.
Both parties will then turn their attention to "Super Tuesday" on February 5, when 22 states hold their primaries.