The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


On the Plane

Straight Talk Express Gets an Upgrade

Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy walk off his campaign plane after arriving in Allentown, Penn., June 30, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS -- The Straight Talk Express has gone airborne.

Monday morning marked the inaugural flight of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) new campaign plane, even though the presumptive GOP nominee wasn't on it. His wife Cindy and the traveling press corps tested out the airplane equivalent of the McCain's legendary bus, by hopping a short flight from Dulles to Harrisburg, Pa., where the senator had spent the night.

The Boeing 737-400, operated by Arizona-based Swift Air, represents a serious upgrade from the Jet Blue charters McCain has been using for several months. Specially configured for the candidate, it features a special area toward the front where McCain will conduct group interviews with the press, in the same way he does on his chartered bus. That section features a couch and two captain's chairs, along with an area where cameras can film him. McCain stopped conducting press interviews on his plane several weeks ago, with his aides saying he preferred a setting where he could sit down with reporters rather then while journalists thronged him in the aisle.

McCain senior aide Mark Salter quipped this morning that "only the good reporters" would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. "You'll have to earn it," he said.

The aircraft features 10 first-class seats in the front section, where McCain and his immediate associates sit, along with a second section for Secret Service agents and additional campaign staff. The press sits in the main section of the plane, where there are standard coach-class seats. Even the coach section, however, boasts leather seats and thick blankets for passengers.

McCain spokeswoman Kimmie Lipscomb noted that the plane also has "phone and fax capability," which the press can use -- for a price.

On the outside, the plane touts McCain's new campaign message -- "Reform, Prosperity, Peace" -- along with the Straight Talk Express logo. And even the plane's tail is aimed at boosting the candidate's fortunes, with the words "" emblazoned on it. When asked whether this means McCain is fully committed to his three-pronged campaign slogan, Salter replied, "It's on the plane."

Posted at 10:57 AM ET on Jun 30, 2008  | Category:  On the Plane
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will Liz Sidoti be bringing the donuts? I hear that McCain loves his sprinkles!

Posted by: brendancalling | July 1, 2008 12:19 PM

Actually I hate social security and social medicine, and social education. The more government steps into my private affairs the angrier I get. I don't need the government planning my retirement or health plan, or educating my children. Infact I'd have a lot more retirement if they wouldn't soak me on every paycheck with social security that I'll never see anyway. The only thing the government should be doing is making sure foreigners don't invade us and protecting our business abroad. The states have the power and should be doing the rest.
The republicans are indistinguishable from the democrats, other than one wears red the other blue. The only thing "some" republicans are good for these days is continuing to fight the war on terror instead of acting like a bunch of pansy, quitting, losers. What the republicans have failed to do is spend less and cut the budget and reduce taxes enough. Big corporations getting a tax break makes sense, the less they spend on taxes the more they can make and the more they can grow which means more work for americans. The more they pay in taxes the more they want to move overseas and invest elsewhere. We need a better tax system as it is and the democrats don't even want to talk about it. I'm not happy with either party they're both very socialistic, but the democrat party is committed to socialism where the republican party still has a few holding on to capitalism and smaller government. There isn't a single thing the democrats or Obama have put forth that is halfway relating to change. We haven't drilled oil and built a refinery in almost 30 yrs. lifting the "democrat BAN" on oil exploration would be change... but that's just not change a democrat can think of. Too much common man's sense for the elite socialists to consider.

Posted by: iamyipper | July 1, 2008 10:57 AM

I guess we should expect even more bum-kissing and covering for McCain in the future. The folks in the political press are so shamelessly unoprofessional it is no longer amazing. The low ethical standards of the WaPo should be a corrective to all the gushing about Len Downie's ambysmal leadership of the paper.

Posted by: Rich | July 1, 2008 10:44 AM

Oooh, I am in the media and I love to masturbate to McCain

Posted by: Jason | July 1, 2008 10:40 AM


Why don't you should educate yourself and quit spouting the party line and talking points?

Gee arguing with you is so easy when all we have to do for a retort is tell folks to quit spouting the party line.

Posted by: Dunkin Donuts | July 1, 2008 10:04 AM

Hey Joe

So you never knew that McCain was having an affiar with Cindy before he left his disabled wife?'s all out there and all true...why don't you get a little familiar with the opposition research on McCain. If you really want to throw the dirt around on Obama, you ought to know what can be flung back at you.

Posted by: Dunkin Donuts | July 1, 2008 9:09 AM

I see the syncophants in the press are at it again.

Juliet Eilperin is obviously giggling herself silly for one of the "good reporter seats". Maybe if she brings a box of donuts, with sprinkles and coffee with a little cream and sugar, she might get one of those seats.

If Juliet has a degree in journalism, it's going to waste. She could have just taken her so called "report" and used a press release from the McCain campaign and not miss step.

Posted by: Dunkin Donuts | July 1, 2008 9:02 AM

i bet you love the socialist medicare and social security.
what have republicans done for the lesser of
our society lately
hey give tax breaks to major corporations so they can make their mo0ney overseas
and not pay taxes here
you should thank those "socialists"
for what little worker/consumer
protections you enjoy today cuz
sure didnt come from the big hearted

Posted by: dick bohanon | June 30, 2008 8:18 PM

Silly socialists (also known as liberal democrats) it was the green socialist party of the democrats that caused our energy crisis. They started the process in 1981 when they BANNED drilling our own oil and resources. They have BLOCKED every attempt to build new factories, refineries, nuclear power plants for almost 30 years. They started the process when they had power almost 30 years ago. We happen to be living in the time when the bills are due and president Bush happens to be in office. 1981 look it up, democrat controlled, DEMOCRAT CONTROLLED, incase you missed the first one, congress BANNED oil exploration. So not only have we not drilled our own oil, we truly don't have a good idea of how much we may actually have because we haven't been able to even explore and test. yes for todays energy woe's thank your lovely socialist democrats.

Posted by: iamyipper | June 30, 2008 5:52 PM

No one has noted yet... at least from what I can see... That this plane is Cindy's and it goes against his own legislation to be using it. Ahh Well... He's the Straight Talker that doesn't know what the price of gas is.

Maverick I say... Maverick.

Signed, One of your workers from the 2000 campaign

Posted by: Mouse | June 30, 2008 5:12 PM

interesting how mcbush is never around to vote on energy bills
just an observation
blaming democrats for this mess is
forgeting who was in charge from 2001-2006
the white house and congress were
in the hands of cheney/rove
why dont they get some credit or is the fact you
voted for them too hard to admit

Posted by: dick bohanon | June 30, 2008 5:08 PM

"We need to do our part to help with gas prices!"

Pssst - John - remember america's people wants lower prices, its just your oil buddies that like the higher prices. Please remember to lie next time per your training.

Posted by: John McCain | June 30, 2008 5:06 PM

Bush and the GOP is the reason why we have such high gas prices. Why would we trust McSame to do any better?

Posted by: Playa | June 30, 2008 4:46 PM

Every one of you people out there who complain about gas prices better look at McCain and Obama's energy plans. Only McCain's plan actually has a chance of lowering the price we pay at the pump. Obama's plan to further tax, regulate and legislate the oil companies will drive the price up.

Educate your selves and quit spouting your party's tag lines and talking points!

Posted by: Rob | June 30, 2008 4:40 PM

"I'm not particularly happy with any party but it should be pointed out that the democrats have held both houses of congress for a few years. What happened to all their promises? Why aren't they doing something about gas prices? Why haven't they stopped the war?"

Maybe you should take this point up with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn is currently blocking around 100 bills, including bills that fund breast cancer research and screen soldiers for signs of suicide risk. Most recently, Coburn placed a hold on an HIV/AIDS prevention bill.

Posted by: Get it Right | June 30, 2008 4:32 PM

So much for "straight talk". This proves that John McCain is the ultimate flip-flopping politician.

Posted by: Clint | June 30, 2008 4:29 PM

Perhaps the STE can morph into Freedom One and he can just fly people from Mexico into America.

No to amnesty. No to John McCain.

Posted by: JR, Boston | June 30, 2008 3:41 PM

It seems like this has turned into blame Bush for everything drivel by the libs. I'm not particularly happy with any party but it should be pointed out that the democrats have held both houses of congress for a few years. What happened to all their promises? Why aren't they doing something about gas prices? Why haven't they stopped the war?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2008 3:33 PM

I don't care what McCain is flying in, he's got a lot of places to get to on the campaign trail. However, this article as vaccuous as it is leaves out the one big question mark that I'm sure more than one person has asked, who is paying for this?

We hear McCain has fundraising issues, and at one point was going broke, now he's flying around in custom made 737s? What gives? How about some journalism? Is this paid for out of campaign money or from his wifes pocket or from lobbyists looking for some payback when if he gets elected?

It would be nice if journalists would give us some straight talk rather than falling over each other trying to kiss up to McCain. Without any context about where the money is coming from for this big ole propoganda plane this is nothing more than a fluff piece to make McCain seem a little less square.

Posted by: tlhwraith | June 30, 2008 3:10 PM

McCain has completed his transformation in to Bush.

Now he won't even give you "Straight Talk"..."You'll have to earn it!"

How Republican of you!

McCain, the flip flopping torturer....can't even decide which lies to tell.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2008 2:02 PM

McCain and a long record of distinguished service? Does anyone remember the Keating Five and the savings and loan albatross? Ask McCain where he was on this one. McCain's career, especially in the political realm, has been nothing short of double-dealing and looking out for himself and his supporters.

Posted by: Black and Bitter Like Coffee | June 30, 2008 1:34 PM

I was really a McCain fan, however, the country is in such a mess, that the incumbant President nor those running for office are even aware of. Out here on the streets, people are spending all their money for gas. The businesses are going broke. The other shoe will soon drop because people are charging goods just to live. Restaurants are now empyt, stlye shops the same. People are broke and the politicians are ignorant of it or just cannot relate. McCain might as well just save his money, because the economy with the rich robbing the poor has lost him the race.

Posted by: FredSelf | June 30, 2008 1:33 PM much money was squandered on McCain's plane's new paint job? What a waste!

Posted by: MartaK-Florida | June 30, 2008 1:25 PM

A serious upgrade from JetBlue? I doubt it--JetBlue rocks!

Posted by: Jen | June 30, 2008 12:55 PM

Let me preface by saying I'm a democrat. A gay, black, middle class, centrist one. So please don't discount my comments as being racist or elitist, etc. without actually reading and processing.

I do have to side with the Republicans on this one. The comments that have been listed thus far are lacking of any structure, sources, or legitimacy. It's just drivel. Let's not forget that Obama and Clinton BOTH fly (flew, in Clinton's case) privately chartered aircraft around the country. And, even if McCain is paying for this with public campaign financing, that is his prerogative. He has a limited amount of cash to spend, it's not a blank taxpayer check, as some of you seem to want to believe. So, while I'm not going to vote for him, nor do I support a lot of the Republican stances on issues, I am a logical individual and I don't see anything wrong here.

I would also implore fellow Dems to be thoughtful of how you represent yourselves, and our party, on forums like this. Thoughtful response is helpful to us, while senseless and unfounded children's banter only helps our opposition. Cheers.

Posted by: Tony | June 30, 2008 12:52 PM

Is that all you got Joe, you freaking loser? The guy has more honor in his little pinky than you have in your whole body. The guy got a divorce and hooked up with someone else - man - I have never heard of that before.

Do you have anything legit to say? Why don't we talk about something legit like the kind of people that Obama associates himself with?

Posted by: Hey Joe | June 30, 2008 12:34 PM

John McCain has a very long, distinguished and honorable record...of dumping women who get fat and old, while hooking up with the next blond loaded with money. His total contributions to the welfare of the working American public? Zelch, Nada, Nothing!

Posted by: Joe Jackson | June 30, 2008 12:31 PM

How does obama get around? How does Al Gore travel. What is your freaking point?! OMG !!

Posted by: Hey Joe Jackson | June 30, 2008 12:31 PM

You don't have to pay for access you moron, you have to pay for phone and fax on the plane. Just another liberal with an ignroant, ill-informed opinion. Read the article jacka$$.

Posted by: Hey SF | June 30, 2008 12:30 PM

Nice to see that the high gas prices aren't hurting McBush, like 90 percent of the country. Nice that he can fly a new plane while most Americans can't drive their cars to work, thanks to eight years of GOP rule.

Posted by: Joe Jackson | June 30, 2008 12:27 PM

What are you people taklking about. Do you think Obama flies around on southwest? Stating Cyndi McCain's money is ill-gotten? Every single one of you makes a reference to Bush .... Go ahead, just spout totally unfounded opinions and carry the party line. Come on, all at once now ... "change", "change" ...

What is wrong with you people. Read the first 4-5 comments here (the ones at the bottom) - just dumb jibberish.

John McCain has a very long, distinguished and honorable record. If you don;t want to vote for the guy that is fine but atleast have a legitimate reason (and calling him McBush is not legitimate).

Posted by: wow | June 30, 2008 12:27 PM

So is this how he's using his public financing dollars... our tax dollars?? Seriously. I'm glad the press will comfortable in their leather seats and thick blankets. And what do they have to do to earn better seats and access to the candidate?? Pay for it? That's what I want in the next President, the ability to get the Press to pay for access. Maybe it also works that way with regular citizens... want access to President McCain? Just be willing to pay the price! Let's hope that if he wins, the cost isn't as high as the Bush Presidency has been.

Posted by: SF | June 30, 2008 12:25 PM

Wow, do only liberal coolaid drinkers read this paper?

Posted by: Comments | June 30, 2008 12:21 PM

Elitist McSame shows how to enjoy life and money when have it. Is it what ordinary Americans can do today, buy the plane instead of car?
Oh well but I am sure media will not comment too much on it because their baby boy is ex-POW so nobody can touch him. I wish al POWs who lived miserable lives forgotten, left alone in their pain came out and told their stories to the public and showed that there are ad we huge differences between POW from prominent family and POW from ordinary American family as same as there were huge differences between political prisoners from prominent family and ordinary family guy during communist time in Easters Europe.

Posted by: Jarda1 | June 30, 2008 12:05 PM

McBush and his 737...nice that his Mama can pay for a new playtoy. You can do those things when Mama has megamillions. Just think what McBush will do if ever elected prez. UGH!

Posted by: Daddio on the Paddio | June 30, 2008 11:46 AM

Who does McClonebush think he's fooling? Or is he just so senile he believes his own bs?

Posted by: jeffp | June 30, 2008 11:41 AM

Straight talk - what a joke. Read a few of McCain's straight talk items:

Posted by: DMWhipp, Florida | June 30, 2008 11:19 AM

Who's paying all this? I bet it's Cindy McCain with her ill gotten funds that she won't reveal to the public. Straight talk, my @#$%!

Posted by: Playa | June 30, 2008 11:09 AM

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