This morning, while driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon on our way to Alta, we received an email from our friend at the RNC, e-Communications Director, Liz Mair. Liz is great. She always looks out for us. And today, she let us know about a McCain media event at the SLC airfield. And got us in.
(Of course we skied the fresh snow first.)
Accompanying Senator McCain at the press conference were governors John Huntsman Jr. and Mitt Romney. Senator McCain spoke first and introduced the governors. Mitt went next and talked about supporting Senator McCain. Romney looked really, really tan.
Governor Huntsman spoke last. He is a long-time McCain supporter--conspicuously so, when Mitt was still in the race. We've heard rumors that Huntsman--as well as Romney--is one of McCain's potential runningmates, and further, that if McCain loses, he (Huntsman) may run for President in 2012.
One of the members of the press asked the senator if these men were here to tryout for VP. As he was asked this, Governor Huntsman pointed towards Governor Romney like, 'look at him, not me.' The three of them did cut quite the picture.
Asked about Governor Huntsman, Senator McCain said that he valued his opinion and leadership. This was why, he said, he had the governor accompany him on a couple of his trips to Iraq. He further pointed out that Governor Huntsman speaks fluent Chinese (we don't know if it's Mandarin or Cantonese) and that such a skill would be very important as China continues to emerge as a world power.
One reporter asked Senator McCain about the economy. McCain said that he understands the dire straits facing Americans, that as they sit at the kitchen table, they have to consider whether to pick up a 2nd job or take some other drastic measure to make ends meet. Regarding a possible "housing bailout," he said that he was sympathetic to well-intentioned families who might lose their houses, but didn't care at all for the "speculator in Scottsdale" who bought 3 houses for profit and might lose his shirt. Such are the inherent risks of business, we suppose.
Good to see Senator McCain avoid the populist rhetoric favored by his rivals.
While there, we also spoke to a McCain supporter. He has supported McCain for President since he (McCain) first formed his exploratory committee back in 2006. We asked him about the latest kerfuffle about McCain, Iran, and Sunni-Shia confusion. He said that it was pretty typical of the press to seize on every little offhand comment and blow it all out of proportion. Sympathetic, we pointed out to him that we had seen reports that said Iran was funding both Shiite and Sunni groups in an attempt to play the one against the other and foment civil war. He just shrugged, saying he'd seen the same reports, but that those details didn't seem to matter to some members of the press.
It appears to us that they are looking for anything that fits their "McCain is too old" story-line. This is how the Democrats and their surrogates combat their candidates' huge experience deficit.
While there, we ran into former Romney guys Phil Case and BYUSA Vice-President elect, Chance Basinger. (Basinger, you'll remember, is part of the ticket we praised for their willingness to lobby Provo City Council on behalf of BYU students in the ongoing parking dispute.) They, along with our brother, Matt Lybbert, were part of the BYU team that staffed the local Romney call center and mobilized BYU students in support of Mitt. It's nice to see that, like their candidate, they don't harbor any hard feelings and are out in support of McCain.
Unfortunately for the Dems, the polls indicate that Obama & Clinton supporters won't be similarly forgiving.
One last thing, before we forget: During his comments, Governor Huntsman compared John McCain to Ronald Reagan and another of our heroes, Theodore Roosevelt. Hunting for the Reagan legacy was the theme of the early Republican primary. So, nothing to see there. But the Roosevelt comparison piqued our interest.
On the ride home with our brother, we discussed it with him, trying to remember what we learned from our reading of Edmund Morris' 2-part bio (links here & here), appropriately, McCullough's Rooosevelt bio, and the research we did for our Roosevelt paper in History 221 (American history, 1860-Present).
While we don't see Senator McCain challenging anyone to a wrestling match or other feat of strength (Roosevelt's signature), we did find Huntsman's comparison apt when it came to McCain's relationship with business and foreign policy.
TR's time was a whole lot different to today, but he too grappled with issues of corporate responsibility and often wondered about the responsibility of business to people and people to business. As we recall, this historical treatment of government regulation of business was our first introduction to the idea.
Everyone knows TR's famous maxim on foreign policy and defense: speak softly and carry a big stick. Broadly, Senator McCain seems to agree with this policy, advocating as he has an increase in defense spending. TR's proud moment was the world tour of his famous Great White Fleet, so named because of their white paint. Great navies equaled military might and political & diplomatic power.
So, yeah, we buy the McCain - Roosevelt comparison.
*UPDATE 28 March 12:49pm MST: We ask, you respond. Reader and friend Dallas Stahle answered our query regarding Governor Huntsman's language ability. Dallas writes:
Just thought I'd let you know that Huntsman served a[n] [LDS] mission in Taiwan and speaks Mandarin Chinese. Cantonese speakers reside in Hong Kong, Macau, and the southern province of China known as Guangdong or Canton. However, all the Cantonese speakers know Mandarin (except some of the older generation) because it is the National Language of Mainland China. That doesn't mean they speak Mandarin well, but it's passable. The younger generation speaks perfectly because of the school curriculums now.
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