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John McCain

Tireless Maverick

McCain may tell 'corny jokes,' but he doesn't mince words about his party by

December 30, 2007|Dan Morain

Sen. John McCain, at 71, is the oldest presidential candidate in the field. But you wouldn't know it by the schedule aboard the Straight Talk Express, the bus he uses to traverse icy New Hampshire. One recent night, at a gathering near Nashua, he spent two hours answering every question on topics ranging from Iraq and immigration to global warming.

He is liberal in his use of Ronald Reagan quotes and criticism of his own Grand Old Party, especially over the congressional practice of larding budgets with money for pet projects. McCain holds forth at the rear of his bus between stops at town hall gatherings. Any topic is open. He dishes about people who hold or held high position and spices the exchanges with banter.

On that frigid night near Nashua, two boys spending the weekend in New Hampshire with their reporter-mom glimpsed democracy, McCain-style. As the bus pulled up to the next town hall, he told the boys: "I will talk for too long, tell some corny jokes." Such events are, he says, the bedrock of democracy. -- Dan Morain

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