Adoration, Protesters Greet McCain on N.H. Return
By Michael D. Shear
EXETER, N.H. -- Sen. John McCain returned Wednesday to the state that, more than other, gave him the Republican nomination, holding what his campaign billed as his first town hall of the general election.
McCain surged to victory in New Hampshire this year after hunkering down in the state for months, holding 101 town hall meetings and wooing the state's famously independent voters almost one at a time.
At the Exeter Town Hall, he told a crowd of several hundred that he will never forget the state's voters, who believed in his campaign when others thought it was dead.
"I was reminded of the words of Chairman Mao," McCain said, in one of his frequent jokes. "Who said 'it's always darkest before it's totally black.'"
McCain was accompanied back to New Hampshire by his friend and Senate colleague, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who praised the audience. "You didn't listen to the politicians and the pundits who all said John McCain was through. You measured the man."
McCain offered brief remarks, praising his former GOP rivals and touching on global warming, the economy and national security. He was greeted with kind and even some adoring questions from the audience.
He was also greeted by members of the AFL-CIO, who on Wednesday launched a massive $53 million anti-McCain effort that will include door-to-door canvassing, phone calls, on line contacts, and direct mail. The union has already sent out 100,000 flyers about McCain's record and have launched a website.
About 50 protesters held signs as McCain arrived and chanted "Bush-McCain, more of the same."
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