McCain Wants a Man on Mars
By Robert Barnes
Sen. John McCain told Florida newspaper editors today that he thought it would be exciting to send a man to Mars. He did not specify whether that man should be Sen. Barack Obama.
McCain said in response to a question from the editor of Florida Today, published on the state's Space Coast, that he was worried about future funding of the space shuttle program and that he would be willing as president to be a champion for NASA.
"Yes, I'd be willing to spend more taxpayers dollars,'' McCain said, adding he thought Americans respond to setting goals for specific projects.
McCain said ever since reading Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, "I'm intrigued by a man on Mars. I think it would excite the imagination of the American people ... Americans would be very willing to do that.''
McCain is in the midst of a three-day visit to the Sunshine State, which he told the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors will be "one of the key states" in November. He added that he had just watched the HBO film Recount, which he said he was sure brought back fond memories of the state's cliffhanger 2000 presidential results.
But McCain's past votes on issues important to the state have caused some problems for him here.
Rick Hirsch, a Miami Herald editor, noted that McCain is scheduled to tour the Everglades Friday afternoon, but asked why he had voted against an Everglades protection plan that had been "seven years in the making'' and was supported by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and the state's entire congressional delegation.
McCain interrupted Hirsch to ask whether the plan was part of an omnibus spending bill, and when the editor replied that it had, McCain said: "You just answered your own question.''
McCain then apologized profusely for not letting Hirsch finish his question. The senator said he would support any standalone legislation to protect the Everglades but said he was proud to oppose omnibus bills that he said lead to out of control federal spending.
McCain seemed relaxed and comfortable in the "town hall'' format he favors, repeating for them his mantra that the three most important issues in the general election battle will be "reform, prosperity and peace.''
He also noted the enormous transition in the newspaper industry, and expressed his sympathy. "I'm glad I don't have some of your challenges," he said, before adding he was sure the editors would meet them.
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