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McCain Addresses Charlotte Chamber of Commerce

By Juliet Eilperin
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A day before North Carolinians head to the polls, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) addressed Charlotte's Chamber of Commerce on slew of business-oriented issues.

Because McCain isn't worried about Tuesday's primary -- he has secured enough delegates for the GOP nomination and faces just one last opponent, Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) -- he focused on staking out his general election positions on immigration, health care and energy.

"I'm willing to put my knowledge and experience and judgment up against Senators Obama and Clinton's any day of the week," he told the group of roughly 150. "I look forward to that campaign, and I look forward to that discussion, and I'm confident I'll win it. I want to win it right here in North Carolina."

Unlike most of McCain's audiences, which are generally filled with supporters, this group was friendly but not explicitly partisan. Members of the crowd laughed at his jokes and most of them applauded when he declared his determination to win the election, but they did not hail all of his lines with acclaim.

When the senator trotted out his proposal to provide a federal gas tax holiday for the summer, saying the recent rise in gas prices "is hurting people on fixed income. Why not give them a little break for the summer?" the audience remained silent.

He spoke at length about energy and the environment, saying he was confident an investment in environmentally friendly technologies would both wean the U.S. off foreign oil and help improve the climate.

"Whenever there's innovation in American history, prices come down. It's good for the economy," he said, noting that global warming comes with its own price tag. "Look at the environmental effects of some of the problems we have now, and what's the cost there."

McCain added that while he's in favor of all forms of renewable energy, federal mandates for ethanol have in part fueled the global food crisis.

"I'm all for every kind of alternate form of energy, wind, solar, tide, any form of alternate energy, but I'm not for distorting the market," he said, adding it's "one of the reasons we have seen a dramatic inflation of food prices."

Several audience members questioned McCain about his stance on immigration, though their perspectives ranged from complaining about immigrants returning to the United States after being expelled for criminal activity to arguing Americans do not want the jobs immigrants perform.

"People don't say to their children, 'I want you to get an education so you can grow up and be a roofer,'" said one woman. "We don't have people who want to do those jobs."

McCain said he understood the need for qualified foreign workers, adding he believed the country could only solve this intractable political problem by "securing the borders first" and then moving forward with more comprehensive reform. "I don't think you can take it piecemeal," he told the questioner.

And while McCain went out of the way to praise Bush for protecting America from terrorist attacks after Sept. 11, 2001, he also faulted the president for not conveying to Americans the need for shared sacrifice.

"After 9/11, I wouldn't have told the people of this country to take a trip or go shopping," he said. "I would have told them to serve this country."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 5, 2008; 11:52 PM ET
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Next: Bill Clinton Urges N.C. Voters to 'Start an Earthquake'


Trouble is Americans think they are above being a laborer, roofer or any other trade job. We have this disillusion that we are entitled big money jobs at a desk, that we all belong in college. Less than 50% of college students should be in college. They see it as a right of passage, or a 4 year party. For what? so they can graduate with a liberal arts degree and $40k in debt?
Parents needs to stop bragging about how their son is a doctor or their daughter is a lawyer. Stop teaching your kids to look for external validation. They are there own person, don't try to live your life better vicariously through them.

Posted by: Abe | May 7, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Michael-Ever read Mitt Romney's "Issues" Pages?

As you said, YOU are an independent. I was a Small Business Owner, who was DESTROYED by much of the Idiocy McCain is Mouthing he wants to continue.

How many Americans will despair and Die, before the others rally and Revolt due to Elected Officials NOT listening to the People's cries?

Too many Americans made it TOO PLAINLY understood how we feel about OUR Country being INVADED, to NOT have a Candidate saying HE will ENFORCE OUR FRIGGING LAWS!

As POTUS, Enforcement of the Nation's Laws, IS THE JOB REQUIREMENT!

NOBODY, who does NOT want to enforce the Federal Requirement of Employers to VERIFY, RECORD, and REPORT W-4 and W-2 Employment Records, should EVER BE ALLOWED TO EVEN RUN! :-(

Impeachment before Appointment for dereliction of Duties to do! Why bother even allowing them to LIE under an Oath they are not sincere about-Like BUSHIE DID!

Posted by: RAT-The | May 6, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I was at this speech, and I can assure you that the questions were not planted and the questions were not loaded. I was in fact pleased to see how open the town hall experience was. Every person who wanted to ask a question got a candid response, and many of the audience members asked intelligent questions that were not loaded nor friendly to the McCain point of view. I will say that if you get the chance to hear McCain speak, sleep through the speech and wait for the Q&A. He is honest and direct and much more comfortable. As a solid unaffiliated registered independent voter I enjoyed hearing McCain's point of views.

Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else feeling like we have been sold some defective merchandise?

Mitt Romney has plenty of time to re-organize his campaign. Anybody can listen to the Generals and Admirals plan what Congress is calling for them to do.

What we need is an American who does not "Plant" participants to voice Bogus arguments and ask Loaded Questions!

Roofers make VERY good money, and it amounts to a BUSINESS that does everything from Sales of it's services to Payrolling!

Sorry Lady, there are many Jobs MUCH worse!

Like "Textiles", or Call Centers, or Billary's favorite; Walmart!

McCain seems to not understand that I am not the only one who sees his Hypocrisy!

Pandering to Coal Miners in Kentucky, or Losers in New Orleans(Nuevo Orleans Now!) that Jobs need to be Created, while allowing Invaders to undermine our Wages and steal good Skilled jobs we have,


Caca de Vaca McCain!

I am giving him 1 Week to learn to be smart.

More of the Idiocy, and I will be trying to get him GONE!

It is the GOP, NOT, the "Juan McAmnesty" Show! :-(

Posted by: RAT-The | May 6, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Alas, those of us who know that high petroleum prices will not be lowered by the sun shining and the wind blowing will not have a candidate to vote for this fall with a rational energy policy.

Posted by: Ed | May 6, 2008 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Juliet Eilperin writes: "Members of the crowd laughed at his jokes and most of them applauded when he declared his determination to win the election, but they did not hail all of his lines with acclaim."

In other words, they weren't like the MSM.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | May 6, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

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