Tuesday, January 15, 2008

McCain brings his 'straight talk' to Muskegon

Posted by Steve Gunn
The Muskegon Chronicle January 15, 2008 06:47A

U.S. Sen. John McCain seems determined to stick to his "straight talk" reputation, even when addressing a friendly group of fellow Republicans on the eve of a crucial primary election.

He demonstrated that Monday afternoon at a rally at Nichols Corp. in Norton Shores, where he spent parts of his speech trumpeting themes that aren't usually high on Republican wish lists, like the need to battle global warming, or provide federal subsidies for the salaries of displaced workers who are forced to take lower-paying jobs.

And the crowd still seemed to love it, chanting themes like "Mac is back" during his short-but-spirited presentation.

Whether voters around the state feel the same way will be determined Tuesday when McCain faces GOP rivals Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and others in the Michigan presidential primary.

McCain, joined by his wife Cindy McCain, Republican National Committeewoman Holly Hughes, Republican National Committeeman John Yob, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and State Senator Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 supporters.

The issue of global warming and the perceived need to lower greenhouse gas emissions and develop alternative energy sources were major themes.

He called for the development of solar, wind and tide-powered energy sources. He called for battery-powered cars and independence from oil producing nations. He said he had long favored "green technologies" and the "green revolution" that's spreading across America.

"Suppose there is no such thing as climate change, but we adopt these proposals, in a free enterprise fashion, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this country and the world," McCain said to polite applause. "(At the least) we hand these young people a cleaner planet.

"But suppose we are right when we say the ice caps are melting and native Alaskan villages on the Arctic Circle are tumbling into the ocean. . .and we do nothing. Then what kind of planet are we handing to these young Americans?"

McCain based his call for energy independence on national security, claiming the U.S. sends about $400 billion per year to oil producing nations, and some of that money ends up with terrorist organizations.

He also called for the continued development of nuclear energy as an everyday power source.

"We always imitate the French -- 80 percent of their power comes from nuclear energy," he said.

While on the subject of France, McCain noted that the Western European nation, known for its criticism of American foreign policy, recently elected a conservative, pro-American president.

"It just shows you that if you live long enough, just about anything can happen," he quipped.

McCain also drew a lukewarm response to his proposal to use federal funds to retrain displaced workers, and to subsidize their salaries if they are forced to accept lower paying jobs.

"We are a Judeo-Christian valued nation," McCain said. "We can't just leave these people behind. I'm no liberal or big spender, but aren't we a nation that has to take care of workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own?"

McCain also tried to deflect some criticism he's taken from Republican rivals in recent days over his suggestion that some Michigan manufacturing jobs are gone forever.

"I know the old jobs are gone, but there will be new jobs created, and I believe we are on the threshold of a great new day for Michigan," he said.

McCain also threw out a healthy portion of "red meat" stances for the fire-breathing partisans in the audience.

He called for improved medical care for military veterans, promised to hunt down Osama Bin Laden "to the gates of hell," and pledged to seal the nation's borders to illegal immigrants.

He also criticized federal spending, particularly "earmarks" like the one that would have committed millions of dollars to build a bridge to an Alaskan island with fewer than 100 residents.

He said Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because they spent too much, and have to return to their frugal ways.

"We Republicans have a special responsibility because of our traditional belief in the careful stewardship of your tax dollars.," he said.

McCain drew the loudest cheers for his defense of the war in Iraq, particularly the recent troop "surge" that has reportedly improved security and brought relative peace to that country.

McCain has received a lot of credit recently for calling for a surge-like troop buildup long before the Bush administration adopted it.

"My Democratic friends who declared the war lost, who said we couldn't make progress politically in Iraq, were wrong," he said. "I'm not going to ask them to apologize.

"But I am going to ask them to recognize our success and go back to the old American tradition that says partisanship stops at the water's edge, so we can join together to beat Al Queda, gain victory in Iraq and bring our troops home with honor."

No comments: