It would be an understatement to say that Sen. McCain was well-received last night at the town hall meeting in St. Paul. Although many of those who attended the town hall meeting said they were undecided, it was obvious that most of the folks in the hall were at least favorably disposed toward the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. They werenâ€™t disappointed.
â€œWhen you see him face-to-face, all the press reports that say he’s not conservative go by the wayside,â€ said Mark Swanson, a Medtronic engineer from Becker, Minn. â€œI don’t hear him being wishy-washy or doubtful … He impresses me very much as an idealist.”
Swanson was one of those who got the microphone last night and asked McCain, a fellow former naval officer, what he thought about U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s plan to reduce gas prices to $2 per gallon.
McCain raised his eyebrows in surprise and said, “I eagerly look forward to seeing that. I’ll try to read it tonight.”
It wasnâ€™t entirely clear that he knew who Bachmann was, although he expressed his admiration for her. McCain is opposed to drilling in Alaska, one of the tenets of the Bachmann proposal. He said that in the end, the only way we can force down prices is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Swanson said that the town hall performance only deepened his admiration and support for McCain. â€œTo me, he lives up to everything he says,â€ he said.
Some people clearly remained undecided, even if they were impressed with McCainâ€™s performance. Don Dame, a mechanical engineer from Woodbury, told me that he was backing McCain despite their disagreement on global warming (McCain says human-influenced climate change is real; Dame says itâ€™s part of the natural cycle). Obama, he said, doesnâ€™t have enough experience to be president.
But Don told the Pioneer Press that he wasnâ€™t sure he could support someone who opposed drilling in Alaska. â€œI guess I would like somebody to change McCainâ€™s mind on the energy problem,â€ Dame told the Pioneer Press.
So Dame may have a ways to go before he can throw his whole-hearted support behind McCain, although his enthusiasm for him last night was apparent.
And then there were environmental lawyer Brian Davis and his daughter Jennifer May, a Forest Lake wife and mother who works in the disabilities field. Davis (not to be confused with the congressional candidate of the same name) went into the town hall meeting for McCain and had his opinion confirmed. â€œIâ€™m even more engaged about his candidacy now,â€ he said.
But May is a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton during the primary season and isnâ€™t sold on Barack Obama. Moreover, she agrees with McCain that U.S. troops should remain in Iraq until the country is capable of self-government. That position, she said with some understatement, â€œisnâ€™t popular in my party.â€
So she went to the town hall meeting last night hoping to find out more about McCain. Afterwards, she said she was still undecided but very impressed with McCain. She found him straightforward and sincere, and she liked what he said about the environment and the war.
“The intimacy of the setting allowed me to feel his energy and his passion,” she said. “I believe in his character and his integrity, and that’s huge for me.”
Sounds like John McCain is very much in the picture for Jennifer May.