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McCain enjoyed the ride as his crowds became angrier and angrier – now that it has reflected badly on him he tries to calm them – after dehumanizing Obama (with phrases like ‘that one’ and implying the man is a terrorist) – McCain met with opposition and booing – as he tried to save face and turn the rage he generated around. To win McCain has chosen a populist route – one which taps into the worst of people’s nature – and the racist, bigoted elements are coming forward; while Palin – who seems will literally say anything – doesn’t mind and I am sure – is grateful for the attention – John McCain knows better.

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — After a week of trying to portray Senator Barack Obama as a friend of terrorists who would drive the country into bankruptcy, Senator John McCain abruptly changed his tone on Friday and told voters at a town-hall-style meeting that Mr. Obama was “a decent person” and a “family man” and suggested that he would be an acceptable president should he win the White House.

But moments later, Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, renewed his attacks on Mr. Obama for his association with the 1960s radical William Ayers and told the crowd, “Mr. Obama’s political career was launched in Mr. Ayers’ living room.”

Mr. Obama was “a decent person” and a “family man”

The dizzying statements came on a confused day when Mr. McCain’s campaign pounded Mr. Obama as a “liar” in an incendiary television commercial about Mr. Ayers and as Mr. McCain abruptly announced another economic policy proposal, this time a plan to suspend mandatory withdrawals from 401(k) retirement accounts.

The events reflected Mr. McCain’s frequently lurching campaign. For the past several weeks, as the polls have shown Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, gaining increasing ground, Mr. McCain’s traveling road show has veered from message to message and from pumping up hostile crowds to trying to calm them down. Each news cycle seem to bring another tactic as the campaign appears to be trying anything and everything to see what might work.

The crowd booed loudly at Mr. McCain’s response.

His temporary embrace of Mr. Obama came as Mr. McCain was repeatedly implored by voters at the town-hall-style meeting to “fight back” against Mr. Obama at the next presidential debate, on Wednesday, and to stop him from becoming president. But unlike at an earlier town-hall-style meeting this week in Wisconsin, where Mr. McCain sharply agreed with voters who urged him to punch back, this time he drew a line.

When a man told him he was “scared” of an Obama presidency, Mr. McCain replied, “I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you — I have to tell you — he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.” The crowd booed loudly at Mr. McCain’s response.

Later, a woman stood up at the meeting, held at Lakeville South High School in a far suburb of Minneapolis, and told Mr. McCain that she could not trust Mr. Obama because he was an “Arab.”

Mr. McCain replied: “No, ma’am, he’s a decent family man, a citizen, who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about.” At that, the crowd applauded.

Mr. McCain and his campaign have been harshly criticized this week by Mr. Obama, Democrats, some Republicans and a number of columnists, commentators and editorial writers for stoking angry crowds at rallies, particularly those in which Mr. McCain appears with his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Crowds in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have repeatedly booed Mr. Obama and yelled “off with his head,” and at a rally in Florida where Ms. Palin appeared without Mr. McCain, The Washington Post reported that a man yelled out “kill him.” At the same rally, a racial insult was hurled at an African-American television cameraman.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said Friday in an interview that he was surprised that neither Mr. McCain nor Ms. Palin had reacted, either by chastising audience members or discussing the events later. “It concerns me greatly when people come to the point where they take a political race, a race for president, and holler out words like ‘kill him,’ ” he said. “I just think our country is so much better than that.”

At the same time, Mr. McCain’s advisers sought to minimize the impact of those images of angry voters that have repeatedly been broadcast on television in the last two days.

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal,” Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, told reporters in a conference call on Friday. “I think political rallies have always attracted people who have an emotional connection to the outcome of an election.”

“It concerns me greatly when people come to the point where they take a political race, a race for president, and holler out words like ‘kill him,’ ” he said. “I just think our country is so much better than that.”

Nicolle Wallace, one of Mr. McCain’s senior aides, tried to turn the tables on Mr. Obama on Friday and accuse him of denigrating the people who go to Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin’s rallies. “Broadsides against our supporters are insulting,” she said. “He attacks the same people he once called bitter.”

Within the campaign, there is a difference of opinion on the attacks, and some of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers have felt he should also criticize Mr. Obama for his ties to his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. But they say Mr. McCain believes that if he does so, he will be accused of racism.

“I personally believe that Jeremiah Wright is a legitimate issue to bring up,” one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers said. “But the candidate is refusing to do that out of an abundance of caution.”

Mr. McCain appeared far more cheerful and relaxed at the town-hall-style meeting in Lakeville than he has at any other recent campaign event. He smiled broadly, laughed easily and told a number of well-worn jokes from similar forums of a year ago. He kept the event going for more than an hour, even after his aides said it was time to bring it to a close.

But although the crowd was not as large and angry as previous crowds — Ms. Palin appears to attract greater numbers of frustrated voters — Mr. McCain at numerous points had to try to tone down the intensity.

At one point, after a voter told him he wanted to see a “real fight” at the debate and the crowd responded with a roar, Mr. McCain replied, “We want to fight, and I will fight, but we will be respectful.”

Then he added, “I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him.” The crowd interrupted Mr. McCain to boo, but he kept talking. “I want everyone to be respectful and let’s make sure we are, because that’s the way politics — —”

At that point, Mr. McCain was drowned out by applause.

Source: NYT

June 2023