CINCINNATI – The plate was heaped with a pile of spaghetti, covered with spicy chili, and layered over with a thick blanket of grated cheddar cheese, and it sat in front of Republican John McCain.

Refusing a bib to wear around his neck to catch the fallout, the presidential candidate dove into the plate of “three-way” chili, an early lunch at Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati institution.

He only made it about half-way through the ample serving, and then it was on to Xavier University for a town hall meeting.

After taking questions from the audience for an hour there, he retreated to a side room where he was interviewed by a couple of half-pints, a brother-and-sister team, Spencer and Piper Macke.

The favor was granted because Spencer, 6, had raised $4,000 for a military veterans fund. He and Piper, 5, were shy but got through five questions, including: