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All Aboard With John McCain April 18, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in 2008 Presidential Primaries.
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sic willie and mccain

UNFILTERED AND UNPLUGGED, SENATOR DISHES STRAIGHT TALK ON IRAQ, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, ANNA NICOLE AND HIS FAVORITE TV SHOW, 24

FITSNews – April 18, 2007 – Believe it or not, it was Arizona Sen. John McCain – not Sic Willie – who raised the subject of Anna Nicole Smith during the course of our rolling conversation aboard his iconic Straight Talk Express campaign bus this afternoon.

“All this Anna Nicole Smith stuff, it’s the ultimate example of foolishness,” McCain said. “I mean, you’ve got seven people saying they’re the baby’s father.”

“It’s too bad you and I weren’t on that list,” Sic Willie joked.

“Yeah, but I heard you auditioned,” McCain immediately shot back.

Nice.

We’ve got to give it to McCain, he’s a pretty funny guy. He’s also pretty spry and quick-witted for somebody who’s often labeled “too old” to run for the Presidency (McCain turns 71 this August, in case you were wondering).

For example, after stressing the importance of “admitting our mistakes in Iraq,” we asked the Senator whether or not he thought President George W. Bush had done a good job of selling the War in Iraq to the American people.

“It’s always easy for me to second guess the President of the United States,” McCain joked. “After all, I’m smarter than he is.”

Of course, he wasn’t entirely kidding.

“The American people are neither dumb nor uninformed,” McCain said. “But in addition to admitting your mistakes, you’ve got to give them a rundown. You’ve got to tell them what’s good, what’s bad, what’s up, what’s down, and you’ve got to do it with regularity. That’s what FDR did. That’s what his fireside chats did for people.”

Ironically, as we were chatting with the Senator, FOXNews cut in with an update from President Bush’s White House meeting with Congressional Democrats concerning the war. Aides scrambled to turn up the volume on the television.

“I look forward to hearing what (the Democrats) have to say,” Bush’s voice could be heard coming through the Straight Talk sound system.

“Yeah, I’ll bet you do,” McCain interjected, provoking laughter from his entourage.

Hours later, it was announced that no deal had been reached.

Asked what he thought the consequences of failure in Iraq would be, McCain dropped his joking tone for one of the few times during our interview.

“Chaos, genocide … and they’ll follow us home,” he said flatly. “They’ll follow us here.”

He also bristled at comments made by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, which he pulled from an index card he was carrying in his pocket.

“Look at this,” McCain said, thumping the index card with indignation. “Harry Reid is out there saying that the Democrats are going to pick up seats because of this war. He says (N.Y. Sen. Charles) Schumer has shown them numbers. They think this is all about picking up seats. Well, that’s not what this is about. I think you’re going to find a lot of Republicans coming back because the Democrats have overplayed their hand.”

Asked about the differences between campaigning for President now versus eight years ago, interestingly enough McCain talked about the rise of blogs and the “ubiquitous presence” of cable news.

“It’s instant information,” he said, adding that “the new media helps the process because sometimes the mainstream media doesn’t get the story or doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Blogs are “like having 10,000 editorials out there, which is a good thing.”

“It’s like any new form of communication in that there’s going to be a shakeout,” he said. “Good bloggers are going to get hits. Bad bloggers aren’t.”

McCain also talked about his own positioning today vis-a-vis eight years ago.

“In 1999 I had a 3% approval rating and 5% name identification,” he said. “Basically, I was totally unknown. That’s certainly not the case this time.”

But the biggest change this time around?

“9/11,” McCain said. “(Now) It’s totally different campaign.”

It’s also a totally different campaign because of McCain-Feingold, the controversial campaign finance reform bill the Senator championed several years ago. Critics argue that the legislation hinders free speech, and we asked McCain how he could support the expansion of free expression on blogs and other new media venues yet work to limit it in other settings.

“The courts have ruled that money is not free speech, money is property,” he said.

McCain also addressed the political maneuvering of S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, one of his staunchest supporters back in 2000 but a surprise free agent this year amid rumblings that he is actively courting the Vice Presidential nod.

“I don’t know what Mark is going to do,” McCain said.

So is South Carolina’s governor on his VP short list?

“I’m an optimist but I’m not that much of an optimist,” McCain said. “One thing I do know is I wouldn’t pick that new Vice President from 24. He’s always wanting to shoot nuclear missles at everybody.”

Apparently watching 24 is one of McCain’s obsessions. He was even given the honor of a cameo appearance during the show’s fifth season, playing a government bureaucrat who delivers a file folder to Audrey Raines, played by actress Kim Raver.

“I told my kids to watch it but I was only on the split screen for six seconds,” he said. “Oh well, at least I got to meet Jack Bauer’s girlfriend.”

MULTIMEDIA: CLICK BELOW TO VIEW IMAGES FROM FITSNEWS’ RIDE ON THE STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS

STE - mccain disembark

(Above) Sen. McCain stepping off the bus.

STE - mccain press

(Above) Sen. McCain is grilled by reporters regarding his decision to allow Sic Willie on the bus.

STE - Bobby

(Above) S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell receives the news that Sic Willie is coming on board.

ste - driver

(Above) – This picture was taken shortly after Sic Willie’s request to “hold the wheel for just a little bit” was denied.

ste - trey

(Above) – S.C. Campaign Manager Trey Walker turns to investigate a commotion coming from the front of the bus. It turns out Sic Willie briefly took control of the Straight Talk’s sound system and was blaring “Rosa Parks” by Outkast while everyone was trying to work.

ste - inside 1

(Above) – McCain staffers hard at work aboard the Straight Talk Express.

ste - inside 2

(Above) – Reporters chillaxing aboard the Straight Talk Express.

ste - kitchen

(Above) – The Straight Talk’s kitchen. Mmmmm. There were some delectable chocolate covered donuts in that white box.

ste - donut

(Above) – Sic Willie eagerly devours the last bite of the last chocolate covered donut.

ste - toilet

(Above) – The last words Sic Willie said prior to disembarking from the Straight Talk Express? “Don’t nobody go in the bathroom for another thirty-five, forty minutes.”

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Comments»

1. Junior - April 18, 2007

don’t tell me you’re on the payroll too?

2. Colonel Sanders - April 18, 2007

great picture but with that cleanly shaved head you look like that Jeff Gannon guy who prostituted himself out for the “company”. Is that what you are doing? Last time I saw, you were all down on McCain, now you are all going down on him in the back of the bus.

3. sic haters - April 18, 2007

Giuliani better not see this.

4. SoThisSealWalksIntoAClub - April 18, 2007

There’s a phrase for that: it’s called a “Proximity infatuation.” Just ask Slate’s John Dickerson all about that.

5. fitsnews - April 18, 2007

Haters,

We went for a spin, we didn’t buy the car … er, bus.

-FITSNews

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