Campaign 2000 comes to Staten Island- by Thomas Donald Clarke

Senator John McCain brought his maverick Presidential Campaign to a crowded American Legion "town hall" meeting last Monday (11/1/1999) in Rosebank.

"Bush can have the officials, we'll take the people," said Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, McCain's New York Campaign Chairman, of the Senator's rival George W. Bush, who has the support of "New York's Republican Establishment."

McCain humored the mostly veteran audience with such observations as "It's easy to get into a plane and get shot down." He then addressed such issues as saving Social Security, expanding the Pell Grant program, a recent transfer of $15 billion from the budget of the Veterans Administration to the budget of the Department of Transportation, increased access to health care for seniors, and increasing the ranks of the military.

McCain attacked the man whose job he is seeking and the spending habits of members of his own party in Congress. "The present administration isn't serving the World War Two generation's health care needs- that will be my top priority," said McCain. "Our Congress is spending $500 million for planes the Air Force tells them they don't need, yet 12,000 of our servicemen have to rely on food stamps."

At the conclusion of the town hall meeting, McCain took friendly questions from five American Legion members and two high schoolers in the audience. On an education question, McCain quipped, "There's no reason a good teacher should be paid less than a bad Senator." Time ran out before any media in the audience could question McCain on a recent Arizona Republic editorial denouncing his "volcanic" temper and personal conduct.

Since this article was written in November 1999, John McCain lost his first attempt at the Republican nomination for President to the eventual 43rd President (and distant relative of mine) George W. Bush. McCain was the Republican nominee for President in 2008, although he ended up loising by 4 points (and 200 electoral votes) to the 44th President, Barack Obama. McCain's old campaign website can be accessed here.

The New York Times coverage of McCain's 2000 campaign (which features a photo of the above mentioned campaign stop with me in the right hand corner) can be viewed here.

November 2, 1999/BC Excelsior, updated November 15, 2008 for this website