McCain’s October surprise? Humor from the candidate and candy from his wife

October 17, 2008

NEW YORK – With just a few weeks to go before the U.S. election, the John McCain campaign is still full of surprises.

rtx9nt9.jpgCindy McCain, the Arizona senator’s wife, visited the campaign plane’s press section after taking off from New York on Friday to give Halloween candy to startled reporters.

So what, some may ask? Well it was the first time Mrs. McCain, who is generally wary of reporters, has ever ventured to the back of the plane.

Declaring an “autumn surprise”, an aide pulled back the curtain that normally separates the press cabin from the candidate and staff to reveal the potential first lady striding down the aisle doling out smiles and chocolate. The visit was fast and purely social.

When asked how things were going she responded quickly: “It’s going great. We’re right where we want to be.”  Yet polls show her husband lagging behind Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The visit was all the more unusual because of the dramatic decrease in access that reporters have had to McCain and even his staff in recent weeks. The Arizona senator, who used to hold press conferences and informal chats regularly, has cut them off nearly altogether. 

A section of the plane that was designed for press pow-wows was used only once — in July. But glimpses of the “old McCain”, as some reporters describe the senator before his more recent evolution, are beginning to come through. 

On Thursday he rocked the house at a New York dinner with a rare roast of himself and rival Obama, who also spoke.

With jokes about his many houses, verbal gaffes and decision to suspend his campaign during part of the financial crisis, McCain outshined his usually-more polished opponent in delivery, timing, and eloquence. The audience roared.

rtx9mul.jpgEarlier in the day his staff had hastily arranged a helicopter ride to New York for McCain when his plane was stuck in Philadelphia because of lengthy airport delays. 

Why the rush? Comedian David Letterman, whose show McCain had skipped a few weeks before in a move that drew extensive ribbing, was waiting for a make-up date.

“Old” McCain or not, he made it to the show, the press followed in the plane, and Letterman was happy.        

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

– Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria      

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