Saturday, September 6, 2008

High hopes for McCain's speech

ST. PAUL, Minn. — We think we know almost everything there is to know about John McCain. He ran for president the first time in 2000. He has been a U.S. senator from Arizona since 1987.

But when McCain delivers his nomination acceptance speech tonight, East Bay Republican delegates to their party's national convention say they want to hear about his vision for the future, not the past.

"I hope to hear him articulate his positions ... and explain how he has the wisdom to lead this country," said delegate Don Marshall of Piedmont. "I want him to throw down the gauntlet and show how he will bring all of his experience to the White House and will not be learning on the job."

Jenniffer Rodriguez, president High hopes for McCain's speechof the California Young Republicans and a Fremont resident, called on McCain to lay out a concrete plan for the nation.

"We know a lot about him. But everything in his career so far is leading up to the story of John McCain we will hear (tonight)," she said. "I'm looking for him to give us details of his plan to run our country."

Marshall knows his hometown's political landscape, and probably that of his home state, favors Democrat Barack Obama. Democrats outnumber Republicans statewide, and the Democratic nominee has carried California in each of the past four presidential elections. Yet, he and many fellow East Bay delegates say they believe McCain's legislative experience and his courage as a prisoner of war will appeal to AdvertisementCalifornians.

"John McCain will say things (tonight) that will appeal broadly to the voters of this nation, including California," said former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson. —... A Republican can win in California if he speaks to the issues, and if he does so fairly and honestly."

Obama's appeal as a fresh face and "gifted orator" will prove insufficient for California voters, Wilson said.

Bruce Cain, director of the UC Berkeley Washington Center in Washington, D.C., remains skeptical that McCain will say anything tonight that would shift a majority of Californians into his column.

"It's not going to be easy for McCain to change California, especially after he picked a conservative running mate," Cain said, referring to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But based on the issues Californians care about, Cain said, the senator could find favor if he emphasizes global climate change strategies, investment in renewable energy, economic recovery initiatives and resolution of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

More importantly, Cain said, McCain must deliver a consistent message.

"So far, we've heard at this convention a mishmash between appealing to the party's conservative base and reaching across the aisle to Democrats and independents," Cain said. "Which John McCain will show up (tonight)? Is he going to pull an Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and appeal to the middle, or a Karl Rove and appeal to conservatives? He has to choose one or the other."

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