McCain's Supporters Looking to Beat the Odds
By Juliet Eilperin
WALLINGFORD, Pa. -- The men and women who stood for hours in the Strath Haven High School gym here today said they view McCain's election as critical, though they remain unsure if he will emerge victorious Tuesday.
"We're cautiously optimistic, but we're also realistic. We know we have a big hill to climb," said Marie Furey, a 67-year-old retired Philadelphia schoolteacher and registered Republican.
Furey, who said she's backing the GOP presidential nominee because "I'm a Republican, have been for many years," said her two children, who are in their mid-30s, are backing Barack Obama in part because they're worried about McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin.
"I think there are some issues, beyond her energy," she said, choosing her words carefully. "Others perceive her to be -- not experienced. It's a small concern for me. It's a large concern for my children."
But Jeff Bater, a 55-year-old Republican who works on real estate development for a Middle Eastern private equity group, said he sees Palin as "a breath of fresh air" and is encouraged by the recent tightening in the polls in states such as Pennsylvania.
"I hope he pulls it out because the election is going to affect us for the next ten to fifteen years, easily," Bater said, adding that he believes McCain has the experience to handle the international and domestic crises the U.S. now faces. "It even affects my guys in Kuwait. Even though they're sitting on piles of oil, what happens here affect everybody."
McCain's wife Cindy spoke to those concerns today as she introduced her husband, unveiling a new pitch for the GOP standard bearer. "He's not a man for all times, but he's definitely a man for these times," she said, sparking a massive round of cheers.
When he took the stage, McCain showed none of the tentativeness of his supporters.
"I know when the momentum is there," he declared. "We're going to win this election!"
One member of the audience even had a new moniker for McCain's rival, which was a sharp break from the "Marxist" and "Socialist" labels that have cropped up in previous rallies. When the senator from Arizona started criticizing the Democratic presidential nominee for not having faced international challenges in the past, the man shouted out, "Obama's a marshmallow!"
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