McCain visits northern Ohio

Channing Hindel

Presidential hopeful addresses green technology, Iraq and Northern Illinois University in Cleveland

A standing-room-only crowd gathered inside the Don Umerley Civic Center this morning in Rocky River hoping to catch a glimpse of John McCain.

Some who thought they saw the senator were disappointed to find out it was just Jack Doyle, a McCain supporter from Strongsville and dead ringer for McCain himself. Later, McCain even mentioned Doyle in his speech.

“Does it look like we were separated at birth or what?” McCain joked. “I tell you what, Jack, if you wanna memorize my speeches, we can go out and get twice as much done.”

Doyle was happy just to be mentioned.

“I’m a supporter,” Doyle said of his “estranged” twin. “I came out to show my support and I suppose get my five minutes of fame. I loved his support for our veterans.”

McCain said he knows how important Ohio is in the race for president, citing the fact that the winner of the presidency hasn’t won without carrying Ohio since 1960. Ohio is also an important state for McCain. He only needs 136 delegates to lock up the nomination for president. Ohio holds 88 delegates for the Republican Party.

He said he plans to make the Buckeye State familiar stomping grounds over the next nine months.

“You’re probably going to grow weary of me,” McCain said.

A sign proclaiming Ohio as “McCain Country” hung in the background as the senator spoke about the loss of jobs and homes in Ohio and throughout the Midwest.

“We need to make tax cuts permanent,” he said. “We need to save more of your money for you to spend instead of having Congress spend it for you.”

McCain said that some of the manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas weren’t coming back. He spoke of green technology and the need for innovation.

He recommended exploring nuclear options, noting 80 percent of France’s energy comes from nuclear power. He also recognized alternative fuels and electric cars as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

“Last week, the price of oil rose to more than $100 a barrel,” McCain said. “Some of that money, let’s face it folks, is going to the hands of terrorists.”

McCain mentioned the war and insisted progress was being made.

“The war is succeeding,” he said. “It’s long, hard and slow, but it’s succeeding. It is.”

He went on to criticize his own party and the “out-of-control spending” that has gone on in Congress during the last eight years.

“We’ve allowed it (spending) to get out of control, and we’ve become corrupted, I’m sorry to say,” McCain lamented. “We’ve got to focus on what’s important.”

During the Q & A portion of the rally, a woman asked what measures McCain planned to take in light of recent incidents at Northern Illinois University and other schools in the country.

“We need more good teachers,” McCain said. “How do we do that? We recruit ’em, we pay ’em more and we find the bad teachers a better line of work.”

The bleachers behind McCain on stage were filled with students from Rocky River High School and Baldwin-Wallace College.

A student asked McCain what benchmarks need to be reached to bring the troops home.

While McCain shied away from setting any kind of timetable, he did acknowledge that the ultimate goal was for the Iraqi military to conduct operations independently with U.S. troops in a support role, which he said was happening throughout most of Iraq. As far as bringing the troops home though, McCain mentioned establishing a permanent military base in the country like the ones we have in Kuwait and South Korea.

In the end, McCain talked for the majority about issues that were important to him, and didn’t focus on who he’d be facing or what their stances were. He did field a question about whether race would become an issue if he ran against Barack Obama.

“I think America is a mature country that can handle a sensitive issue like that one,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Channing Hindel at [email protected].