When I think about the February 9th do or die primary I remember John McCain eight years ago. After a shiny start, the bloom faded and he was carrying his bags on commercial flights. Probably flying coach. I wasn’t there, but it always seemed to me that his performance in those town meetings was his saving grace. And that’s because he’s a regular guy.
I approached Sen. Fred Thompson at the ’96 Convention. He looked at me like I was a turd. Earlier that year, in Anchorage, I was at a Republican event where McCain was going to speak on behalf of his Presidential candidate, Phil Gramm. I walked up and sat next to him, and welcomed him to Alaska. He was very pleasant, like a regular guy. We had a little talk.
He’s that kind of guy. And I think that kind of guy will do well in New Hampshire. I don’t think Bush 3 is that kind of guy. Bush 2 had a little of that in him, but not little brother.
I guess I was wrong about his ad buy. It’s already started, and may account for a poll bump in New Hampshire. I assume they’re good ads, he should get a bump. But I can’t see TV advertising being the critical factor. They all cancel each other out. You have to be in the game, but that’s not where it’s won or lost. I think that decision is made in those town meetings. And how well you do has a lot to do with what kind of guy you are.
JR Dunn, my AT editor, was off yesterday, so my piece will be up tomorrow. I’ve got another one ready to go the following day. There just happened to be some things I wanted to write about. There’s a lot going on. Six months from now things will be a lot simpler. Not that they’re that complex now. There are just a lot of distractions.
I never met JFK, but I shook his hand. In the fall of 1960 I read in the paper that he’d be traveling on a whistle stop campaign in Northern California, and that there’d be a stop in Pittsburgh. I was in Pleasant Hill, about fifteen miles away, so I got a ride over there and figured out where the train was going to stop, and where I would need to be in order to be standing directly under the platform at the back of the rear car. I had it figured right, and when the train stopped I was in the front row, and center. I didn’t like Kennedy. I was a Republican. But I came to look him over. He bent down, and shook my hand, and looked me in the eye. For a second or two our eyes met. I was staring at him pretty hard, and he grinned a little bit. He had a real friendly expression on his face, and his eyes were bright blue.
He was just a cool guy.