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In Virginia, McCain Vows an Underdog Fight

Republican Presidential nominee John McCain attends a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Oct.13, 2008. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

By Michael D. Shear
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- With three weeks left, Sen. John McCain debuted a retooled stump speech that diminished the harsh critiques of his rival in favor of a blunt admission that he is losing and a pledge to fight and "never give up ... never quit ... never hide from history."

Declaring that "nothing is inevitable here," McCain noted that his campaign is 6 points behind Sen. Barack Obama's in the polls, a stark admission as public polls document his slide. But McCain sought to turn his position in the race into a positive, calling himself an underdog and portraying Obama as too certain of victory.

"Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections and concede defeat in Iraq," he said. "You know what they forgot? They forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."

Speaking to a massive crowd of more than 15,000 at a convention center here, McCain offered no new economic proposals. But he spent the entire speech promising action to turn around the economic crisis that has engulfed the country.

He repeatedly vowed to focus his efforts as president on the average worker and homeowner, not the corporate executives or Wall Street barons.

"I'm not going to spend $700 billion dollars of your money just bailing out the Wall Street bankers and brokers who got us into this mess," he said. "I'm going to make sure we take care of the people who were devastated by the excesses of Wall Street and Washington."

The speech was loaded with pessimism, echoing the dour attitude of a country in which 90 percent of the people think the country is headed in the wrong direction. He said, "The hour is late. Our troubles are getting worse. Our enemies watch."

But he also suggested that his policies would repair the economic devastation and put America back on track. He promised to keep taxes low, freeze government spending, provide choice in health care, keep trade free, and expand oil drilling, nuclear power and other alternate energy sources.

"The last President to raise taxes and restrict trade in a bad economy as Senator Obama proposes was Herbert Hoover," McCain said, prompting boos. "That didn't turn out too well. They say those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Well, my friends, I know my history lessons, and I sure won't make the mistakes Senator
Obama will."

The speech paid virtually no attention to the foreign policy issues that dominated much of his early campaign. He spent just three sentences on the war in Iraq, pledging to "bring our troops home with victory and honor."

Instead, McCain attempted to convey the kind of empathy that Obama is known for offering in his speeches.

"I know what fear feels like. It's a thief in the night who robs your strength," he said. "I know what hopelessness feels like. It's an enemy who defeats your will. I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again."

In tone, the address echoed his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention and his passionate defense of the war in Iraq during the 2004 Republican convention.

And it used some of the same, short, phrases, punched with emotion:

"Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight.

"Fight for a new direction for our country.

"Fight for what's right for America.

"Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness
in Washington.

"Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead.

"Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

"Fight for our children's future.

"Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

"Stand up to defend our country from its enemies."

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 13, 2008; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Battlegrounds , Economy , John McCain  
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Next: Questioning Obama


I back Mac for a free America

Posted by: peterdaol | October 14, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Kevrobb's got it right - exactly what part our children's future is McCain fighting for? That they will inherit an damaged environment with climate change and sea level rise that will affect our ability to grow food, and cause political instability in poor nations? That we will not have equipped them with investment in smarter green energy, but kept America addicted to polluting fossil fuel via stupid mantras like Drill Baby Drill? That there will be no money for any safety net pensions like Social Security, because they will owe it all to pay for Bush's Iraq war? That we continue to alienate our traditional Allies by risky nation-building rather than focusing on non-proliferation such as the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that McCain voted against? It's exactly BECAUSE of my children's future that all the voting adults in my household are supporting Obama/Biden - Yes We Can, in Virginia!

Posted by: JulieMcNamara | October 13, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

mccain really IS erratic! he's taken the straight talk (haha) express and swerved all over the low road in it, now he wants to come barrelling down the high road? look out america! has-been at the wheel!!

Posted by: peabody3000 | October 13, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

McCain's biggest blunders:
1.He gives everyone the impression he's a Bush puppet
2.His choice of Palin for his Vice President
3.His campaign has no theme, no main goals, he flops around like a fish out of water
4.His age, watching the debates showed the country how old McCain really is

Posted by: gatorsn09 | October 13, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Too little, too late. McCain lost me when he voted against Jim Webb's New GI-Bill because it contained funding for the education benefit which had been promised to our volunteer military personnel, but never funded sufficiently for most of them to take advantage.

If McCain would like to discuss domestic terrorism for a moment, perhaps he'd like to explain why our military recruiters have signed up over 125,000 enlistees with "serious criminal records" since 2003, and why it's okay to spend government funds providing combat training to members of gangs like the 'Crips', 'Bloods', and 'Gangster Disciples', and giving them access to our latest weaponry? According to the FBI, the recruitment of gang members will significantly increase the threats to domestic law-enforcement posed by gangs, not to mention the increased risks to citizens at home.
We already record over 15,000 murders each year in this country, many of them attributable to gang members. Training them to get better at it doesn't seem to me to be a wise use of our military resources, and it begs the question: which is more dangerous, the fact that Senator Obama sat on some charitable boards with a 60's has-been domestic terrorist, or that our policies of over-burdening and over-extending our existing volunteer army has resulted in having to recruit and train criminals for our armed forces? What is the difference between a homegrown street gang with a national presence, and a domestic terrorist organization?

Worse, what are the implications of introducing this element into the ranks of our military in the first place? If you don't happen to be a criminal already, and you might have considered joining one of the services, how likely is it that you're going to do so, now that you know you're going to be rubbing elbows with gang-bangers on the battlefield?

The McCain campaign's relentless badgering on the 'Ayers issue' provides him an excuse to question Senator Obama's patriotism, while in the real world, his policies are degrading what was, on 9/11, without a doubt the finest military in our history. That is not only unpatriotic, it's reckless.

Posted by: thomas777 | October 13, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the question that the Palin/McCain team should be asked is:

How sick is John Mccain?

Read this:

Posted by: MickyD1 | October 13, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Florida news carries information that the Democrat Mahoney who replaced pederast Republican Mark Foley has now been exposed for the politician he by reports on his adultery and payment of hush money.

Mahoney, Craig, Foley, and more.
Corrupt land deals,money in freezers(!) at least one possible murder, big money payoffs for passing bad bills, Tom Delobby Delay, real-estate Ringel, Clinton/Monica, an Attorney General who doesn't know that waterboarding IS torture and a Senate that confirmed him...
The disgusting behavior goes on and on and will continue as long as we do nothing about it.
It makes more and more sense to revolt with your vote.
For the next three election cycles, actively work against every incumbent and support and vote for evey incumbent's opponent.
Help the "parties" to understand that we will no longer tolerate this "mis"-representation.
Please relinquish party loyaly -- trade it on for loyalty to our country.
Time to really put "Country First For a Change."

Posted by: bgreen2224 | October 13, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! … And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!

Posted by: johnjonesmt | October 13, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

As a lifelong Republican I have looked long and hard at the issues the candidates and the Bush and Reagan legacies and the current state of my beloved country and have reached the same conclusion as many other lifelong Republicans. I Quit! Obama 2008!

Posted by: DaveMiner | October 13, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

In a twisted sort of way I almost want McCain to win this election because four more years worth of failed Bush/McCain policies would for all intents and purposes be the end of the Republican party as we know it today. They would become the 4th party gadflies that they deserve to be.
The only question is, would this country survive it?

You people out there who live in economic downtrodden states like Ohio, Pa and West Virginia etc: If you are stupid enough to vote for McCain then you will deserve every bit of economic hardship that a "President McCain" would give you.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 13, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

There's a sobering article in Rolling Stone about the real McCain.

Posted by: kpeacen | October 13, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: parsonsscott | October 13, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Everybody needs to read the story on John Mccain that was done in the Rolling Stone magazine. It is very enlightening about the true character and motivation behind Mccain. Former pow's and former and current friends tell the truth about the man. It is easy to understand why he is so erratic and running this insane campaign. Read it and post it as many places as you can. He cant say these are lies because a lot of it is his own words that condemn him. This is not an honorable or caring man. Neither is his wife. It is really sad.

Posted by: qneee | October 13, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

If you're John McCain, you know you've lost your Man of the People image when Newsweek begins a story:

"When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one."

Not to mention when it closes by noting that the car your wife Cindy actually drives isn't even registered in her name, but in that of her massive beer distributorship.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 13, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

McCain can't run a coherent campaign, so how can you trust him to run our country? If you want 4 years of random decision-making, choose McCain. If you want steady leadership, go Obama!

Posted by: DemoDevil | October 13, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ok. Now which McCain are we talking about?

The 2000 McCain?
The Keating 5 McCain?
The July 2007 McCain?
The January 2008 McCain?
The Nominee McCain?
The POW McCain?
The Convention McCain?
The 1st debate McCain?
The "experience is important" McCain?
The "experience is not so important as Palin is to my campaign" McCain?
The "Obama hangs out with terrorists" McCain
The "Obama is a decent man" McCain?
The 300 Taxpayer Mortage Bailout McCain?
The New Economic Plan McCain?
The Scratch that New Economic Policy McCain?
The "Im gonna kick [the decent man's] you know what" McCain?

McCain is so erratic, he makes Dr Jekyll look stable.


Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 13, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain needs to tell us what he's going to do. First he should tell us what he's going to do to repair his campaign. It has been a debacle, from start to finish. The process is straightforward: tell us what is wrong and tell us what you're going to change to address those shortcomings. Then do the same thing for the economy. The vague platitudes quoted above don't tell us a thing. If McCain wants to get back into this race, he's going to have to revert to the real straight talk maverick of the 2000 race. What he's giving us so far is too little, too late.

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 13, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse


How do ya like them apples? Everything Obama ever did pales in comparison to what McCain did in the KEATING 5

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 13, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If you study the electoral map and go by polling data, Obama leads by 10% or more in enough states to have 264 electoral votes sewn up (he'll need 270 to win the election). Virginia is "leaning" Obama, with better than 7%, but less than 10%. Every other state is either sewn up for McCain or less than 5% either way. That makes Virginia the key state, and a must-win for McCain.

Then again, if we can manage to keep dead people, cartoon characters, and multiple registrations from counting in the election, McCain might win even without Virginia.

Posted by: Quuzlfut | October 13, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Will McCain be willing to discuss in the next debate the Passage of the Bill H.R. 7081; United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation, and the possibility of jobs for Americans as a result of billions of dollars of revenue generated from the agreement. Or will Americans be sidelined for potetial jobs once again? This seems to be a great topic for discussion for the GOP to show economic recovery.

Posted by: sbmapes14247 | October 13, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

See the best Sarah Palin impersonators, short clip. Very Funny.

See What they didnt show during the debate
What the media didnt cover, the debate outtakes. A tense moment between tom brokaw and John McCain.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 13, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

What about the other 300 million? McCain picks Gov. Palin as his running mate, but he only thought of himself (and Palin).

Realistically, McCain knows with 3 bouts of (skin) melanoma there could be a 4th or 5th? And at +72, little exercise & lots of negative stress condemning everything & everyone else for W's miserable handling of the US economy, he also must realize (or the doctors have told him so) he is pushing his health string to a new limit.

As president he could meet his (christian) maker before 2012. He is therefore ready, willing & able to let Palin become the next President.

But what about the rest of us?

The horror of thereby cheapening Lincoln's office & memory with a gun-totting, moose & wildlife eradicating, self-glorifying speech-memorizing President from small town Wasilla is exactly not what non-Republican, non-conservative America needs in these economic & political seriously troubled waters.

Posted by: hchiba | October 13, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Panicked voters are hard to distract. Why would McCain being the "underdog" in the fight manage to woo more swing voters than if he actually took time to discuss the economy?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 13, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

An interesting approach by McCain - speaking of optimism. His campaign in the past few weeks has been overcome by fear - as is evidenced by his negative advertising. Obama has surged on the message of optimism. ...........

Posted by: glclark4750 | October 13, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Women of America Unite!
Unite against the sexist media and Barack Hussein’s Mugging of Vice President, Sarah Palin!

Women must unite against the liberal media vicious, sexist, cruel, demeaning, contemptuous UN-AMERICAN, unfair, unprofessional, unrelenting and blatantly biased treatment against Vice President Sarah Palin and acting blatantly in favor of Barack Hussein Obama during this unprecedented historic quest for the presidency!

Barack Hussein Obama claims a mightier throne, one forged in liberal ideals of justice and equality and hope, BUT he has benefited mightily from sexism in this campaign, and has remained silent. Obama supporters seem very happy with the sexist way pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by Sarah Palin, and many believe that most of the "venom" in the campaign is coming from supporters of Obama.

Women of America Unite in this defining moment in American history. To ensure we can grow up from the male dominated government that has caused many of the problems our country is facing; to a country where men and women are equal partners in governance.

Women of America Unite!
Unite against the sexist media and Barack Hussein’s Mugging of Vice President, Sarah Palin!
VOTE for McCain/Palin

Posted by: Manolete | October 13, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse



How dare they insinuate that our brave men and women of the military would be "defeated" if they left Iraq now!

They followed their order, and have performed a stirling service to our country no matter the outcome

The ONLY "defeat" is the failed tactics and strategy of the Republican leadership to run the war in Iraq. This administration has brought shame and distain to our country.

EVEN GEN. PATREUS said "NO VICTORY" would EVER be declared by him in Iraq in an interview with the BBC on 9/11/08!!!

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 13, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Round and Round He Goes
Who John McCain is?

Do you really want this guy's finger on the RED BUTTON?. Not that he'd be the same guy tomorrow or a week from from now.

He makes Dr Jekyll look stable.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 13, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This is a definite improvement in tone for Senator McCain. I genuinely appreciate that he's moved back from the more severe distortions and outright lies of the last few weeks. On substance, however, there's nothing new, and certainly nothing that makes me believe he'd be a better choice than Senator Obama.

Posted by: Justin_in_Chicago | October 13, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"I must agree with Mark Penn when he stated that the biggest loser in this year's election is the media.

Shame on them!"

And shame on you for blaming the "media".

McCain is running an awful campaign and he deserves to lose.

You want to blame the MSM, or anything else under the sun for McCain losing, have at it.

But if the GOP had nominated a better candidate and/or ran a better campaign, they wouldn't be in this fix.

Posted by: mathas | October 13, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections and concede defeat in Iraq," he said. "You know what they forgot? They forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."

When did McCain become so concerned about worker's rights ? His anti union voting record in the US Senate(he opposed allowing TSA screeners collective bargainings rights just last year)is clear.

Concede defeat in Iraq ? The Iraqis want us to leave. In fact, other than McCain, everyone wants to draw down our Iraqi presence.

We heard the cutesy "curtains" jive back in 2006, just before Pelosi took up the Speaker's gavel.

And no one in the Obama camp is taking any votes for granted. Obama's campaign is too disciplined and too organized. They'll continue working right up until the polls close on November 4th.

Posted by: mathas | October 13, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for John McCain as he is running not only against Barack Obama but also agains the media.

If the media did not mock him constantly and if the media placed Obama under the same magnifying glass regarding his plans and associates as they have McCain, he might of had a chance.

I must agree with Mark Penn when he stated that the biggest loser in this year's election is the media.

Shame on them!

Posted by: mwhoke | October 13, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"Fight for our children's future."

Yep, McCain loves the children, because children are our future.

In fact children are the foundation of Republican economic policy, which is based entirely on borrowing money from our children and grandchildren, so they can promise wars and low taxes now.

Fight for our children's future, John. Let's put aside our differences and work together as Americans to hand them a giant GOP-sized deficit.

Posted by: kevrobb | October 13, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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