YORK, Pa. — Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band” blared from the speakers as Sen. John McCain shook hands with supporters following his town hall meeting here yesterday.
The song’s lyrics — celebrating a rock band’s hedonistic depredations with groupies like “Sweet Connie” — don’t quite match the staid image of the GOP, but like the '70s rockers, the presidential candidate was here to help Pennsylvania Republicans “party down.”
“I think we’re going to be up late on election night, and I’m the underdog,” McCain told a crowd of more than 3,000 at the Toyota Arena, and made a prediction: “I think you’re going to hear the commentators say, ‘Well, we’re waiting for Pennsylvania.’”
That the result on Nov. 4 could hinge on Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes is an optimistic forecast for a candidate who continues to trail his Democratic rival in recent national polls. No Republican presidential candidate has carried Pennsylvania since 1988, and recent statewide polls show Sen. Barack Obama leading by more than 7 points.
The McCain campaign projected confidence yesterday, however, as the candidate — whose ads have mocked Obama as a “celebrity” — arrived with his own political rock-star entourage.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman stepped off the “Straight Talk Express” bus, which rolled right into the arena as the concert-quality sound system blasted out the Rocky theme. Sen. Arlen Specter had warmed up the crowd with an appearance that hadn’t been announced in pre-event publicity.
“It may very well be that the election is decided in Pennsylvania,” Specter said, and predicted that McCain’s “record of independence” would prove “very appealing” in suburban Philadelphia, a region that has tilted heavily toward Democrats in recent years.
McCain’s “maverick” appeal to independents — the GOP candidate’s best hope in a year when polls show the percentage of voters expressing Republican affiliation has sagged — was also praised by Ridge.
“There are red states and blue states, but we need a president who is red, white and blue,” the former governor said.
His support from Lieberman — who was chased out of the Democratic Party by netroots-backed antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in his 2006 Senate primary — is part of a package that puts a patriotic spin on post-partisanship.
“The choice could not be more clear,” Lieberman told the Pennsylvanians yesterday, describing a contest “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
WHILE LIEBERMAN’S line drew cheers from the audience in York, it elicited howls of outrage from Obama’s supporters online, including Andrew Sullivan, who said the ex-Democrat was doing “what Rove Republican vice-presidential candidates have been trained to do: savage the opponent as a traitor.”
Speculation about Lieberman as the Republican’s running mate is probably farfetched, but the McCain campaign is clearly unafraid to brandish their candidate’s military service as evidence of his superior qualification for office. Lieberman also described the election as a choice between one candidate who had “been tested in war and tried in peace” and “another candidate who has not.”
Team Maverick also doesn’t hesitate to showcase their man’s long experience in foreign affairs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Georgia — a former Soviet republic where McCain yesterday reminded his audience that in 2006 he had “reviewed the Georgian troops who had served with honor beside American soldiers in Iraq.”
“The impact of Russia’s action goes beyond the threat to a democratic Georgia,” McCain said.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online