Tales from the Trail

Nostalgic McCain bids adieu to his traveling press corps

ABOARD “STRAIGHT TALK AIR” – Republican John McCain, who basically cut off contact with his traveling press corps in the last two months of the presidential race, walked to the back of his campaign plane on Tuesday to say goodbye.

“We’ve had a great ride, we’ve had a great experience, and it’s full of memories that we will always treasure,” the Arizona senator told reporters, who crowded into the aisle and the front of the plane’s press section to hear.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together, some, we’ve been together for almost two years,” he said during a flight from New Mexico to Arizona. “I wish you all every success and look forward to being with you in the future.”

McCain, who appeared subdued, said he was looking forward to the night’s results.

“I’m feeling good and feeling confident about the way things have turned out,” he said, with his wife Cindy at his side.

McCain wraps up 7-state day to tears, cheers in Arizona

PRESCOTT, Az. – Republican John McCain ended a seven-state cross country sprint in the wee hours of Tuesday morning with an appeal to his home state to send him to the White House.

The 72-year-old senator, whose partially hoarse voice was the only visible sign of the long day he had behind him, expressed confidence in his chances of victory despite polls that show him behind Democratic rival Barack Obama.

“I’m confident because I’ve seen the momentum, my friends,” he told the cheering crowd, roughly 1,500 strong. “All we’ve got to do is get out the vote.”

McCain discovers Garden of Eatin in Florida

PLANT CITY, Florida – Republican John McCain was taking advantage of the what the land provided to eat his way across Florida while on a bus tour on Thursday.

In Altamonte Springs, the Straight Talk Express made a beeline for Mi Viejo San Juan restaurant where McCain declared to the owner, “We’re hungry.”

Joined by his wife, Cindy, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, McCain tucked into heaping plates of chicken, beef, mounds of rice and fried plaintains.

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

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.

Trying to shore up base, Cindy McCain goes to North Carolina

rtx8sbh.jpgWith polls showing that Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has a shot at winning North Carolina, Republican rival John McCain is sending his wife Cindy to the state on Saturday to shore up what has traditionally been a stronghold for conservatives.

Obama has made inroads in North Carolina and made the city of Asheville his spot for preparing for the debate held this week. Plus, two out of three polls released this week have shown the Democrat ahead by as many as five points while the third poll showed McCain ahead by 3 points.

Cindy McCain, who has been taking a more prominent role in the campaign in recent days, will serve as the Grand Marshal at the NASCAR Bank of America 500 race on Saturday in Concord, North Carolina, the Republican’s campaign said. 

In apparent shift, Cindy McCain invokes sons in criticism of Obama

cindy.jpgBETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – Republican John McCain’s military history is famous, but the service of his sons is less well known. And until recently, that’s exactly how the presidential candidate and his wife, Cindy, wanted it.
But on Wednesday, Mrs. McCain made a rare reference to her sons when criticizing the Illinois senator for his 2007 vote against a war funding bill. McCain has two sons in the military, and one has served in Iraq.  “The day that Sen. Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body,” McCain told a crowded rally in Pennsylvania, an electoral battleground state.
“I would suggest that Sen. Obama change shoes with me for just one day and see what it means … to have a loved one serving in the armed forces and more importantly, serving in harm’s way,” she said. “I suggest he take a day and go watch our fine young men…and women deploy, get on those buses and leave with a smile.”
McCain also invoked vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s son, who recently deployed to Iraq.
 ”We have a lot in common, the McCain family and the Palin family,” she said. “We represent between us the Army, the Navy and the United States Marine Corps.”
Obama voted against the funding bill in 2007 but supported a version that included a timetable for withdrawal for U.S. troops from Iraq.
The son of Obama’s vice presidential running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, has just been sent to Iraq with the Army National Guard, and will be there for about a year. Obama has two young daughters. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

McCain’s houses: hard work, or his wife’s wealth?

fiorina.jpegJohn McCain adviser Carly Fiorina is offering a new defense of the Republican candidate’s ownership of multiple homes , suggesting that it is due to his hard work rather than his wife’s money.

McCain’s wife Cindy is a wealthy heiress and the couple own between eight and 11 properties depending on how they are counted, according to the Talking Points Memo political blog. McCain responded to a question on the subject last week by saying he wasn’t sure how many properties he owned.

Cue criticism from his Democratic rival Barack Obama, who said it showed McCain was out of touch with millions of Americans struggling to pay mortgage costs.
Fiorina told CNN on Monday: “He is a man who has these blessings and these assets because he’s worked hard all his life. That’s part of the American dream.”

Somebody please buy this candidate a coffeemaker

coffee.jpgSEDONA, Arizona – Taking a few days off from the presidential race, Sen. John McCain nonetheless keeps the media on its toes with a daily, early morning trip for coffee.

The Republican presidential candidate, who is staying at his comfortable home in the hills near Sedona, has been driven with staff, Secret Service, reporters, photographer and a television crew in tow to a Starbucks.

There, he quickly gets a cup to go and returns home.

On Friday, the six-vehicle motorcade — four SUVS and two vans– drove him 19 miles roundtrip to a Starbucks in Sedona.

Half-sister of Cindy McCain says she feels excluded, angry

NEW ORLEANS – A half-sister of Cindy McCain has emerged to speak in an interview with National Public cindy1.jpgRadio, complaining that she feels hurt when she hears the wife of Republican Sen. John McCain describe herself as an only child.

Cindy McCain’s father was the late Jim Hensley, founder of the Hensley & Co. beer distributorship, from his second marriage, while her half-sister Kathleen Portalski was Hensley’s daughter from his first marriage, NPR said in the exclusive report that aired on Monday.

Portalski, 65, is retired and lives in Phoenix.

Her son Nicholas Portalski contacted NPR after hearing the radio station’s profile of Cindy McCain last week  that described her as an only child.

Michelle Obama getting more negative coverage than Cindy McCain?

WASHINGTON – Americans are hearing a lot more about Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain, but the news they get about the Democratic presidential candidate’s wife is far more negative than what they hear about thertr209pf.jpg spouse of the Republican candidate, according to a study.
The study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that 30 percent of Americans said they had heard a lot about the wife of Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, while only 9 percent reported hearing a lot about Cindy McCain, the spouse of Republican candidate John McCain.
Seventy-eight percent said they had heard at least a little about Michelle Obama, while only 54 percent reported hearing at least a little about Cindy McCain, the study found.
Michelle Obama has been more heavily covered by the news media than Cindy McCain. Between Jan. 1 and June 15, Obama has been a significant newsmaker in 102 stories, while McCain has appeared in just 28 stories, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.
In evaluating the coverage of the two candidates’ wives, about half of those questioned said the news had been a mixture of positive and negative.
But people were much more likely to say the news they had been hearing about Michelle Obama was mostly negative. About 26 percent said Obama’s coverage had been mostly negative, while 21 percent said it had been mostly positive.
Thirty-one percent said the news about Cindy McCain had been mostly positive, while only 7 percent said it had been mostly negative.
Republicans were much more likely to say the news about Obama had been mostly negative. Thirty-three percent found that to be the case, while only 10 percent of Republicans said coverage of the Democratic candidate’s wife had been mostly positive.

What do you think — has Michelle Obama been getting rougher treatment from the news media than Cindy McCain? Or are they being treated equally?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit:  Top: Reuters/Chris Keane (Barack and Michelle Obama in Raleigh May 6); Bottom: Reuters/Mike Stone (John and Cindy McCain in Dallas March 4)