On Wednesday, Senator John McCain officially announced his candidacy for president at campaign rallies in Portsmouth and Manchester New Hampshire. Clouds loomed over the event in Portsmouth and rain fell on the crowd during McCain’s speech in Manchester. McCain passionately reiterated his support for the war in Iraq and asked those gathered to give American forces one more chance to win it. But he also spoke about a number of other problems facing our nation. Throughout the day McCain told voters that he was worried about the country’s current direction repeatedly stating that, “Its not good enough for America, and when I’m president it won’t be good enough for me.”
According to McCain, America has lost the respect of the international community. McCain assured the crowd that, as president, he would work to regain that respect. Drawing on his experiences as a veteran, McCain told the crowd that he has a personal understanding of the costs of war. As president, McCain said that he would take his role as commander in chief seriously, and never start a war without just cause or without exhausting all other options first. Turning to Social Security, McCain warned that the retirement of large numbers of Americans from the Baby Boomer generation would place an unfair financial burden on younger generations of tax payers. Touching upon the recent scandal at the Walter Reed veterans hospital, McCain vowed that he would work to fix a system that provided “substandard care” to veterans. The candidate also addressed America’s reliance on foreign oil and called for energy independence.
Voters braved cloudy skies in Portsmouth and rain in Manchester in order to see John McCain announce his candidacy for president. But attendance was sparce in comparison to recent events held by Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.
Veteran Bobby MacDonald has known John McCain since the 1980’s. Back then, the two were concerned that MIA’s from the Vietnam War – many of whom may have still been alive and imprisoned in Russia or elsewhere – were being forgotten. McCain was instrumental in raising public awareness about the issue, said MacDonald. He is now working on McCain’s presidential campaign. MacDonald also said that he respects McCain’s willingness to talk to everyday people. McCain’s years of experience as a soldier and as a member of Congress make him the best candidate for president, MacDonald added.
Joey, age 18, traveled to Portsmouth from Ithaca College in New York to see John McCain announce his presidency. But Joey was not sure who he would vote for yet. He said that he had wanted tosee Barack Obama speak in Boston earlier in the week, but could not find a way to get to the event. Giuliani and McCain were Joey’s early favorites. Joey said that McCain’s speach was good and that it touched upon a number of key issues, including the war in Iraq, global warming, social security, and healthcare.
Katherine McDonnell, and her 8 year old daughter Emily braved the rain to see McCain speak in Manchester. McDonell is an Republican from Stratham, NH and has yet to decide who she will vote for. But she said that she would bring her daughter to see as many of the candidates as possible, including the Democrats, because listening to every viewpoint is an important part of the democratic process. McDonell does not want to see America pull out of Iraq, and is opposed to setting a timetable for withdrawal as well. She said that she is concerned about what the next president will do about the war, and how they will handle natural disasters like Hurrican Katrina.
Some voters had already made up there mind about John McCain. Members of the Seacoast Peace Response held signs protesting the war in Iraq across the street from Prescott Park in Portsmouth, where McCain made his first announcement speech of the day. Steve Diamond, a peace activist and host of a local progressive radio program entitled “Making Waves”, said that the group was targeting McCain because of a recent joke about bombing Iran. Diamond said that McCain should realize that war is a serious matter, not a subject for humor. He also said that many of the frontrunners had yet to admit their own mistakes when it came to the war in Iraq. Diamond said that he would probably vote for Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich, whom he considers to be the only true anti-war candidate. The activist also noted the small size of the crowd and said that the event appeared to have gone off with “a splatter”.
A protester holds his sign nearby McCain’s announcement event in Manchester. Anti-war protesters jeered McCain and loudly disrupted the candidate’s opening remarks. McCain handled the situation with poise, stating that he appeciated their concerns and proclaiming that their exercise in free speech testified to the greatness of our nation. After his speech McCain broke through a crowd of eager voters and journalists in order to shake hands with the protesters.