Last week I found out that John McCain was going to be in Reno on Wednesday and was doing a town hall meeting. I went and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even got to shake his hand.
I had to wait about 30 minutes to get into the Boy's and Girl's club where the town hall meeting was being held but I think pretty much everyone who wanted to did get in. There were about 600 people there. Before he came out they had all the Republican elected officials and candidates go behind the curtain, I assume to have their pictures taken with McCain. McCain was introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. I wonder if he might be the vice presidential candidate.
McCain spoke for a few minutes before he started taking questions. It was interesting that the two subjects he chose to speak about were pork barrel spending and the war. He had a list of things from the farm bill and the latest emergency appropriations bill that he used as examples of waste. He said he would veto bills containing wasteful spending. The list included things like 215 million for asparagus growers, 93 million for race horses, and 75 million for commercial fisheries. He said that Republicans allowed spending to get completely out of control and that Obama wants to continue more of the same.
On the war he said that Obama has only been to Iraq once and won't sit down and talk to General Petraeus. He said that Obama wants to sit down and talk to the leader of Iran but not to General Petraeus. It has always seemed to me that a Presidential candidate going to Iraq is a lot of work for the military with questionable return on investment. But I suppose that hearing form the troops that are on the ground in Iraq is worthwhile. McCain gave an example. He said he knew that we were in trouble in Iraq right after the invasion when he visited Iraq. He said many soldiers came up to him and stressed the need for more troops.
After his brief speech McCain took questions. It is easy to see why he likes the town hall format. He is very good at engaging with people and answering their questions. When asked about increasing the use of nuclear power he pointed out hat he is a straight talker. He said that in Iowa he told the farmers that he is against Ethanol subsidies and although it may be unpopular in Nevada, he is in favor of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. John McCain does a very good job of building trust. I think that the fact that people believe they can trust him to be honest with the American people will be one of the main reasons that people vote for him.
There were a wide variety of questions. About health care for the working poor McCain emphasized his belief that the government should stay out of people's choices about health care. He said he favors giving people a $5000 annual tax credit for health insurance.
McCain was full of humorous quips. At one point he pointed out that France currently has a pro American president. McCain said it just shows that if you live long enough anything can happen.
Since the event I have been trying to synthesize my take aways from seeing McCain in person. I do trust him. I do believe that he would make a strong president and would not take us to war capriciously. I do worry a bit that Obama might be a weak president like Jimmy Carter.
McCain is quite low key which means he doesn't really build up excitement and enthusiasm in a crowd. But maybe that can work to his advantage. He has a realness that is appealing.
I do worry that McCain would be bad for the country economically. He certainly did nothing in the town hall meeting to demonstrate his economic credentials.
All in all I am really glad I went. I still haven't decided who I am going to vote for in November but I feel better informed and I had a lot of fun. Oh, and now I can say I shook John McCain's hand. All I had to do was walk over to the ropes by where he was going to walk out and when he walked by I just stuck out my hand.