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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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March 4, 2008 11:03 AM

McCain in the "Heart O' Texas"

Posted by David Postman

This post is from Liz Burlingame, Charles Cadwallader, Cailin Magruder and Will Mari. They are students of UW professor David Domke's blogging class and are filing reguar reports from Texas on today's key primary there. You can see more of their reports at seattlepoliticalcore.org.

WACO - Free trade, Iraq, immigration, social security and the economy; all things that Arizona Senator John McCain talked about at his town hall meeting in Waco, Texas last night.

After introducing his wife Cindy McCain as well as former Texas Senator, Phil Gramm; McCain gave the speech that campaign volunteers said he has been giving for over a year.

The audience pulled no punches in asking tough questions on the issues that they wanted to hear. Veterans, university students and ten-gallon hat toting Texans came in out of a blustery and cold Waco evening to sit and stand in a long, hanger-like building where normally you would see a petting zoo.

It was a proverbial political 4-H, with McCain as the exhibit being judged.

“He stayed on his toes” said Brandon Bellows, graduate student in political science at Baylor University, “those were not easy questions.” And while he doesn’t agree with McCain on everything, he appreciates his moderate stances on the issues.

Going into Tuesday’s craziness, conservatives in this Central Texas city seem reassured after hearing Sen. John McCain speak at a Monday evening town hall meeting.

Following McCain’s town hall meeting at the Heart O’ Texas Fair Complex, Republicans rushed the stage to shake the senator’s hand.

As the tide of men in U.S. Navy caps, college students and elderly couples filter by, Billy and Taelor Little stand watching in the back of the long, concrete-floored hall.

The father-son duo felt better about backing McCain.

“I think he’s the most conservative candidate we have,” said Taelor, 17. “He’s going to be strong” in the general election, he said.

Taelor’s dad agreed.

“He’s the best choice,” Billy said. But he thinks a run against Sen. Barack Obama would be tough.

“The biggest problem is the national mood,” he said. “People are just sick and tired of the war …. people want change, and they don’t understand the consequences of that change.”

But Billy, an evangelical Christian, still thinks McCain’s bipartisan maverick streak will appeal to people.

“You can’t be a Republican all the time. You can’t be a Democrat all the time. Sometimes you just have to be an American” to get things done, he said.

M.A. Taylor, the congenial chairman of the McLennan County GOP, thought the event had gone pretty well, considering the short notice. They got the word that McCain was coming out to Waco (right in the middle of McLennan County) on Saturday.

Taylor said “it could not have been better. I doubt there’s any question about his getting the delegates,” he said, referring to McCain.

The county votes up to 65 Republican each election, and this year promises to be no different in this “reddest of the red” GOP stronghold.

Taylor, a former four-term state representative, said that the closeness of the race on the Democratic side isn’t something he envies.

“Texas politics is a contact sport,” he said.

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