In Boston, It's McCain or the Game
Updated 5:56 p.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
BOSTON, Mass. -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might be smart enough to know he should avoid competing with the Super Bowl, but he decided to cut it close this afternoon.
McCain spent most of his Sunday appearing on television talk shows and holding a rally with supporters in Connecticut. But after arriving in Boston, the senator decided to swing by the Green Dragon Tavern, an Irish pub near Faneuil Hall. There, a mix of supporters and New England Patriots fans had gathered to eat, drink and wait for McCain, who was scheduled to show up at 4:20 p.m.
Carol DelMastro, a registered independent who runs a hair salon in Cranston, R.I., was headed with her family to a nearby bar to watch the game, but she decided they should take a detour so she could hear what he had to say "and maybe ask him a few questions." Her particular focus: his policies on issues affecting small business owners such as health care coverage.
"I pay 1,400 dollars a month for my family," she said, referring to her health insurance bill.
But as the hour grew late, DelMastro -- dressed in full Patriots regalia -- said she was willing to bolt if McCain didn't show up soon. "Absolutely," she said, adding she was still undecided on whom she would support in Tuesday's primary.
Some patrons appeared to be die-hard McCainiacs, such as another business owner who sells rugs, Ali Salimi. Salimi, who came to the U.S. from Iran in 1986, said he believes the senator will end the polarization that has dogged American politics for decades.
"A lot of people think he will start a war with Iran," said Salimin, another independent. "I think actually, because of his service record and because he knows the cost of war, how it can be nasty and dangerous, he's the last person who will start it. It would be a war of necessity, not of choice."
By 4:45 p.m., even former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci, who had backed former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani but switched to McCain after Giuliani dropped out of the race, was getting worried. "Kickoff is at 6:17," he said, looking at his watch, noting that he needed to drive home to Hudson, Mass. "I've got a forty-five minute drive home. I'm hoping he gets here."
Ever loyal, Cellucci stayed put. But at 4:48 p.m., DelMastro bolted, with her husband and kids in tow, to head over to the Purple Shamrock. "We have to go," she explained. "We have to catch the pre-game show."
At 5:01 p.m., a McCain aide informed Cellucci that the senator's plane had landed at Logan Airport and he would be en route shortly. The former governor reminded the staffer of the sacrifice he was making: "I've got a forty-five minute ride home," he said, smiling sweetly.
McCain entered the Green Dragon at 5:32 and made the rounds for four minutes among the packed crowd. On his way back out of the bar, Romney recognized Cellucci for his support and said he planned to compete in Mitt Romney's home state, "We think we have a shot here," he told the crowd. "We're proud of the progress we've made, and we think we may really be able to finish this thing up Tuesday."
He wrapped up quickly, saying, "I know we're getting close to the time of the kickoff," and deferred any questions about his rooting interest. "Thanks again," he said before walking out at 5:40 p.m. Kickoff was 37 minutes away.
Web Politics Editor
February 3, 2008; 5:25 PM ET
Categories: A_Blog , John McCain , Northeast / Mid-Atlantic , Primaries , The GOP
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