By Katy Braisted
Atlantic News , February 3, 2000
HAMPTON -- Hampton voters have spoken, and after all the local numbers were tallied up in this Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Senator John McCain was declared the winning Republican presidential candidate, not only in Hampton but in other Seacoast area towns as well.
In the days prior to the election, Senator McCain campaigned tirelessly throughout the state, and he brought his abiding sense of patriotism — along with his design for restoring truth and dignity to the Oval Office -- to the Ashworth Hotel at Hampton Beach last Thursday morning during his 105th town meeting-style appearance.
The Arizona senator and presidential hopeful spoke for 20 minutes to a rapt audience in an affable and self-deprecating style.
After choosing to abandon last Wednesday's Iowa caucus in favor of remaining in the Granite State to campaign, the senator appeared rested and exhilarated for the first of his many scheduled appearances that day. Introduced by State Representative Russell Bridle of Hampton, the senator was greeted with a standing ovation by the crowd.
"I'm happy to be here on another typical Arizona day," McCain quipped referring to the frigid temperatures the northeast had been experiencing.
After introducing his wife, Cindy, the senator acquainted his audience with his many platforms, military reform being chief among the issues. While the senator believes we "still live in a dangerous world," he reminded the audience of the need for a "steady hand on the tiller," and promised the United States will have a much different presence in world affairs when he is president.
McCain criticized the Clinton administration for needlessly endangering American service men and women in international disputes he feels this country has no business being a part of calling such incidents "feckless photo opportunities" for the president.
The senator remains committed to restructuring and strengthening America's armed forces and spoke at length about the need for military reform and our country's responsibility to enhance the standard of living of American armed forces personnel.
"With 6.4 billion dollars...of unnecessary and wasteful spending for defense, there remain 12,000 enlisted families on food stamps," McCain said in amazement. "What's that about? It's got to change," he said.
"We have to get the special interest groups out of DC and give the government back to you," McCain said. The candidate vying for this country's highest office touted the need for paying down the national debt but not at the cost of sacrificing social security for the next generation.
"I'm happy to see the president, the house and Governor Bush want to pay down the debt," McCain said, "but lets not forget that social security and medicare need funds too." The senator promised that, as president, he would work hard to secure social security for the next generation and beyond.
McCain also promoted his plan for school choice, the voucher system and charter schools.
As president, I would do away with sugar and gasoline subsidies and put the funds toward education," he said. "The federal government man-dated special education but has not funded it," the senator added in amazement, vowing, "As president, I will fund special education."
McCain also mentioned better teacher salaries and merit pay based on increased student scores as part of his plan to enhance the country's education system.
Senator McCain remained on the stage to field questions and comments from the audience ranging from the plight of Native Americans to campaign finance reform to abortion and prescription medicine.
While McCain holds a pro-life position, he has called for both sides of the issue to join in dialog in the best interest of children throughout the country. The senator pointed to his voting record in the senate as proof of his commitment to the unborn.
"I want to improve adoption and make the process easier," McCain said. "I want to improve foster care and start talking about the lives of children. Right now the issue is polarized on both ends," he said.
McCain said that a national pro-life organization will not endorse him because of his stance on campaign finance reform and because he refuses to bow to pressure from special interest groups.
On the issue of prescription medicine, the senator feels it is an aberration that seniors should be forced to cross international boundaries to purchase their medicine at half price.
"Seniors should not have to make the choice between their health and their money," he said.
The senator was well served by his visit to Hampton as he ended his appearance with yet another standing ovation from the crowd. A multitude of Seacoast residents and press, both local and national, converged around the presidential hopeful to shake his hand, request an autograph or relate a personal story. Through it all McCain remained composed while he good-naturedly joked and thanked every supporter.
Among the senator's well-wishers was Hampton Selectman Fred Rice, who paid the senator a dollar owed since a bet the two had apparently placed on the Army/Navy game last summer. Rice didn't seem to mind paying the debt, and appeared hopeful that the senator would win again at Tuesday's primary. As it turned out the Hampton selectman, and many other local and state Republican party meinbers, saw their hopes become a reality with McCain's win in New Hampshire.
McCain and the other Republican presidential candidates now head off to do some final campaigning before the February 19 primary election in South Carolina.