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McCain: Bremerton feels like home

"They filled every square inch of the Bremerton Boardwalk, every square foot of the hillside beyond, every board of the media platform.An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people jammed downtown Bremerton Wednesday evening to witness the rising presidential campaign of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. Fresh from stunning primary victories in Michigan and Arizona the day before, McCain rode an Argosy ferry boat into a tumultuous Bremerton welcome. The boat had been dubbed the USS Straight Talk Express.McCain and his shivering wife Cindy stepped off the boat to thunderous applause, raucous music from the movie Rocky, spotlights and a deep-throated announcer in an event that resembled a professional wrestling match as much as a presidential campaign. McCain had been told by his host, Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro, that Harry Truman was the last presidential candidate in Bremerton.Gov. (George) Bush is good at raising money, McCain said of his opponent. I'm good at giving 'em hell.McCain said his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, each served in Bremerton. In many ways, I feel like I am coming home to some wonderful people who serve, McCain said. Thank you for all the work you do in the Navy, the finest Navy in the world.The bad news is this administration has neglected the men and women in the military ... We have a disgraceful situation in our military, McCain said citing 12,000 military families eligible for food stamps. There will be nobody in the military on food stamps when I am president of the United States, McCain said.Apparently, that's the message the Bremerton crowd came to hear.Mike Denall and his son James, 15, both were attending their first presidential campaign rally.I like his conservative, anti-liberal policy and especially his stance for the military, Mike said. That's something we've missed for many, many years.Denall said he would want McCain to pull some of our (military) people out of these foreign conflicts and peacekeeping missions.Mike LaCombe of Port Orchard was also at the rally. He's a Navy hospitalman who served aboard a hospital ship in 1966-68.I have several grandsons. I don't think he's going to send them any place foolish, LaCombe said. I'm not so sure about those other guys.McCain raised his voice several times during his 15-minute speech - perhaps never louder then when he called himself a true reformer.I want to reform the government, ... the military, ... education and the 44,000-page tax code that should be thrown in the trash, he said. We have to get the special interests and the big money people out of Washington.In what now has become a stump speech, McCain talked about breaking up politics as it is now practiced in Washington, D.C. From the last breath I draw, I will break that iron triangle of big money, lobbyists and the legislation that have deprived all Americans, young and old, of their voice in the government, McCain said. I will inspire a generation of young Americans to commit themselves to causes greater than their self-interests. That's what being president of the United States is all about.With the sun having set and biting rain cutting across McCain on the Boardwalk podium, he cut his speech short a little bit.Still he said his campaign has room for everybody.I am a proud conservative Republican, McCain said. That's my core philosophy. But I want everyone to get on this train. I want everyone to be part of this new awakening in America. I want independents, Democrats, libertarians, vegetarians, whoever you are, to go out and vote next Tuesday.He said his upset in Michigan proved the momentum has swung back to him.This has started a great crusade to bring every American back to the great sense of nobility and beauty of this nation and our willingness to serve and sacrifice, McCain said. Change is coming and it is going to sweep this nation.As LaCombe stood on the pier with his Vietnam veteran hat on, it was obvious he was going to stick with McCain as long as his campaign lasted.McCain says the right things, LaCombe said. From what I know of him he is pretty honest. He owned up to breaking under pressure over in the (POW) camp. He didn't have to say that but he did. I'm kind of just a garage guy for John. He's got a lot of the big guys. He needs little guys too.As the crowd filtered away, Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton, a Democrat, admitted surprise at the size of the crowd. She had introduced McCain just minutes before. I not sure the Bremerton Boardwalk ever had that many people on it before, she quipped."

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