If Sen. John McCain thinks his "bomb bomb Iran" joke last week to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" is hurting him, he's sure not letting on. He's campaigning in South Carolina today and at both events, the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" was played over the sound system as he was coming on stage? A tweak at his critics, who claim the joke showed McCain was too flip to be president, joking about bombing a country and all that?
No, McCain said after he spoke in Charleston this afternoon. He ascribed the song to staff mischief, didn't seem too perturbed about it, and joked that the campaign would start playing "Good Vibrations" at impending stops.
McCain is on a five-state campaign announcement tour, with three scheduled stops in South Caro-lina today. At a Civil War-era flour mill, he told about 250 supporters that he had the most experience and resolve to protect the country against terrorism. Jack Edgerton, the president of the Adluh Flour mill, said he was not committed to McCain as of yet, saying only he'd support the most viable conser-vative, Republican or Democrat.
Outside, ghosts of campaigns past haunted McCain. Five men waving the Confederate battle flag greeted McCain supporters. McCain has acknowledged he copped out in calling the flying of the flag — a controversial issue in this state — a states' rights issues in the 2000 campaign here against George W. Bush. Asked later about the men flying the flag, McCain said they were simply expressing their free speech and that his opposition to the flag was well known.
Inside, challenges of campaigns present taunted him. After McCain said nice things about ethanol during a press conference, Adluh President Jack Edgerton complained that the demand for ethanol from corn and soybeans had doubled the price of those commodities in recent months.
"Food's gone up in the last couple of months and people wonder why," Edgerton said. McCain just nodded.
Posted By CHUCK RAASCH, GNS POLITICAL WRITER on April 26. 2007 4:26PM
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Chuck Raasch is political editor for Gannett News Service. His column, Newpolitics, appears here and on USA TODAY.com. A native of South Dakota and a graduate of South Dakota State University, Raasch has covered political campaigns since 1978, including Tom Daschle's first race for Congress and George McGovern's last race for the Senate. He has covered presidential campaigns since 1988.
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