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CAMPAIGN '08 / On the Trail / ATTITUDE

Question about his temper doesn't get the best of him

May 08, 2008|Maeve Reston

Some of John McCain's Senate colleagues have been vocal about his temper. And at McCain's town hall gathering Wednesday in Rochester, Mich., a voter told the presumptive Republican presidential nominee that it was a big concern.

He was armed with a quote from Sen. Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican, who described McCain as "erratic" and "hotheaded," and said the thought of a President McCain sent a "chill down my spine." (Actually, Cochran called it "a cold chill.")

"How dare you ask that question," McCain said, drawing laughter as he jokingly raised his voice and said, "Take the microphone away from him!"

The voter praised McCain's "passion." But he said many people worried about whether, with foreign leaders or adversaries, McCain would be able to keep his cool, "especially at a time like this when our image is becoming so important, as it's been so severely tarnished by our past presidents."

By then, other audience members were catcalling.

"I will confess to you, my friend, that I get angry," McCain said. He went into a litany of aggravations: the actions of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, unbridled spending, the earmarked $233-million bridge in Alaska and "corruption" that ultimately put some of his congressional colleagues in federal prison.

"The American people are angry too, and they're not going to take it anymore," the Arizona senator told his questioner.

"And that's why they want change. . . . They're mad, and they've lost their temper."

-- Maeve Reston

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