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USA - McCain for President -

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BOWDEN: Senator John McCain is playing to halls and convention centres across the country,
reminding voters what he stands for.

SENATOR McCAIN: [Addressing convention] The point is the American people didn't get to know me
yesterday and the fact is they know I have always put my country first and party second and I will
continue to do that.

BOWDEN: At seventy-one years of age, John McCain is having his second tilt at the top job. Back in
2000 he lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush. So just who is this man who was once
described as a maverick? The Senator has a new version of his 2000 campaign bus - The Straight Talk
Express - so named because of his tendency toward bluntness.

Between now and November, the bus and the John McCain plane will be covering thousands of
kilometres. We've joined the team as members of the travelling press corps, tagging along from
state to state to observe the inner workings of the campaign machine up close and personal - or at
least as close as we can get.

Our first event of the day is a conference on small business in Washington, another ballroom,
another unremarkable meal and the usual receptive crowd. At the end of last year the Senator had no
money and no momentum.

SENATOR McCAIN: [Addressing convention] You know I've never run a small, struggling enterprise,
unless you count my Presidential campaign last year.

BOWDEN: One issue, which John McCain confronts wherever he goes, is the war in Iraq - a war he has
supported from the start.

[Protestors start yelling out at convention]

BOWDEN: First one anti-war protestor... [Physically removed from convention]. Then another...

SENATOR McCAIN: This election offers Americans a very distinct choice. [Another protestor] I'm... I'm
running out of funny lines.

BOWDEN: But most Americans see nothing funny about the war. As the Senator travels the country,
he's reiterating the need to stay the course in Iraq but his stump speech now reveals a significant
shift to the left on other key issues.

SENATOR McCAIN: [Speech given at convention] I will push for comprehensive immigration reform,
absolutely. [And in another speech] And I saw the manifestations of climate change and I know how
serious this issue in New Hampshire and America and in this world.

BOWDEN: That might appeal to independent voters but he's infuriating the right wing of his own
party.

BAY BUCHANAN: [President, The American Cause] He seems very little concerned for the conservatives.
He thinks we have nowhere else to go, for the true right, for the true energy in the party. He
seems to say, you know, that's it. You know the jobs are gone, get used to it. You know the
immigration it's amnesty, and that's where we're going, my first priority. Global warming,
definitely a high priority. These are things that are an anathema to us.

BOWDEN: Political commentator Bay Buchanan is the sister of former Republican Presidential
candidate, Pat Buchanan and heads the conservative group, The American Cause.

BAY BUCHANAN: If he shows us disdain and shows us no interest and just dismisses us and our values
and principles, he will not win on election day.

BOWDEN: And so what do you think people are thinking? Are they thinking they just won't vote?

BAY BUCHANAN: I think there will be a low response of Republicans. I don't think you will have the
energy level and the excitement of the grassroots of our Party going out to vote as there will be
very likely with the Democrats and so that will be a disadvantage for McCain.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It's been my honour to welcome my friend, John McCain as the nominee of
the Republican Party.

BOWDEN: John McCain is also battling the perception that his presidency would be four more years of
George W. Bush, one of the most unpopular US leaders in history, when Americans are desperate for
change.

STUDENT QUESTION: What would you say to those first time voters - because that's probably going to
be your biggest hurdle in this election - what would you say to those first time voters that you
would have to offer them over Senator Obama for the future of this country?

SENATOR McCAIN: The most important qualification to be President of the United States is that
person has to be very, very, very, very old so that puts it [applause and cheers].

BOWDEN: John McCain's competitor for the presidency, Democrat Barack Obama, certainly has youth and
eloquence on his side.

SENATOR OBAMA: [At a convention] But here's the thing. We have a war today in which we should have
never waged it and our leaders don't know how to end it.

BOWDEN: His critics argue he's all style and no substance.

SENATOR OBAMA: [At a convention] And you need help to stop it. Young people have to get involved.

BOWDEN: John McCain has his life story.

MAN INTRODUCING McCAIN AT CONVENTION: I would like to first of all thank you for your service to
this country and your continuous service in office.

BOWDEN: Including a powerful war story. Born in Panama, John McCain was the son and grandson of
Navy Admirals. By his teens he was showing a competitive nature and considerable spirit.

RIVES RICHEY: John was a wrestler and all us wrestlers were kind of...

BOWDEN: Feisty?

RIVES RICHEY: A little feisty and I'm trying to look at, look for some other word other than kind
of a tough guy but ...

BOWDEN: Well you probably were tough guys.

RIVES RICHEY: We probably were.

BOWDEN: John McCain attended the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the
Potomac River from the nation's capital. These days a year at the exclusive boarding school costs
$41,000 US. Rives Richey was John McCain's partner on the wrestling team.

RIVES RICHEY: It was more kind of I think a daredevil type of situation and you know at Episcopal
we're very regulated and also at the time we were fourteen trying to act like we were eighteen or
nineteen, wanting to be men and so you know, learning to smoke...

BOWDEN: Rives Richie plays down the stories of his friend being a mean and unpopular student with a
string of nicknames to match.

I've read about other nicknames like 'Punk'.

RIVES RICHEY: Yeah.

BOWDEN: Or 'Nasty'.

RIVES RICHEY: Yeah.

BOWDEN: Or 'McNasty'.

RIVES RICHEY: McNasty yeah. Well that would have been a natural. Everybody at Episcopal School,
there's really more of a sign of acceptable or popularity. If you didn't have a nickname it's
because people don't like you very much almost.

BOWDEN: After graduating from the US Naval Academy, the young navy pilot volunteered for combat in
Vietnam. In 1967 he was shot down over Hanoi.

SENATOR McCAIN: [Archive footage] And I ejected and broke my leg and both arms and went into a
lake.

AD CAMPAIGN: Shot down, bayoneted, tortured. Offered early release, he said no, he'd sworn an oath.

BOWDEN: The Republicans are emphasising the contrast between life experience and a man they say has
none.

AD CAMPAIGN: Beautiful words cannot make their lives better but a man who has always put his
country and her people before self, before politics, can.

BOWDEN: Being a war hero wins John McCain respect but will that translate into votes.

AD CAMPAIGN: Don't hope for a better life - vote for one. John McCain.

SENATOR McCAIN: [End of advertisement] I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

BAY BUCHANAN: You know there is three things people vote on, the environment one - and right now
the environment is an unpopular President, an unpopular war and an economy that's a mess and that's
all seen as the responsibility of the Republicans cause of the Republican President so the
movement, the environment is to vote these people out.

On the issues, both of them are bad on immigration and you see them waffling on the other issues,
but then you go to the third thing that people vote on and that is personality. They vote on people
they like, that they can relate to and Obama is incredible and McCain has an uphill battle on that.
He's you know, he's John McCain. He's not the most loveable person and he doesn't claim to be and
so when it comes down to personality, Obama wins. Obama's got two out of the three.

BOWDEN: We leave the insular, controlled environment of the campaign trail to visit McCain country,
his home state of Arizona. This rough and tumble world is where you'll find the true American
mavericks. We travel from the scorchingly hot capital of Phoenix, to the mountains in the east, to
find some of Senator McCain's most staunch supporters.

JACK HUSTED: I think that rural Arizona is really what Arizona's about. I've been blessed many
times over to live in Arizona and fortunate to know John McCain.

BOWDEN: The American Independence Day parade is the perfect opportunity for local government
candidate Jack Husted to press the flesh. His other mission is to help get John McCain into the
White House.

JACK HUSTED: As it gets a little closer, people will realise that these are really troubled times
and to put someone that they know little about in the Oval Office is a scary proposition. The
country knows John McCain and the country liked him - has always liked him - as the maverick. I
mean he's in the centre. His opponent is far, far left and I think as time comes closer to
elections, you'll see that he will win.

BOWDEN: These people might be committed Republicans but that doesn't mean John McCain will hold on
to their votes. The damaged Republican brand and the unpopular current President are making for a
rough ride.

MARTHA HYLAND: Frustrated, very frustrated. I have voted since I was old enough but this year,
there's just not one I want to vote for.

BOWDEN: What about the man from your state, Senator John McCain?

MARTHA HYLAND: I kind of feel like he's a patsy. In my honest opinion I just feel.... I just feel
like he's playing a role, that he's just a part of Bush's plan.

BOWDEN: But Jack Husted and his wife Karen feel differently. What about the suggestion that this
will be a third term for George W. Bush?

KAREN HUSTED: Well I know he's not George Bush. He's much more independent. He's much more
bipartisan. He is much more willing to listen and talk to all people and all viewpoints and I think
that's important right now, especially coming out of these two Bush terms that have been so
divisive for our country.

GROVER NORQUIST: [President, Americans for Tax Reform] The one thing you know about John McCain is
he's not Bush - in temperament, in attitude he doesn't even like the guy. So it's a little hard,
you can't... you could paint most Republicans 'oh... third time Bush' more easily than McCain. He's the
least.... the guy you're least able to do that to.

BOWDEN: Back in Washington DC the weekly invitation-only meeting of Republican movers and shakers
is getting underway in the office of Grover Norquist, founder of the group, Americans for Tax
Reform.

Many of the people here don't approve of their likely nominee. Not long ago their host was calling
John McCain all kinds of names like the "nut job" from Arizona, but now he's talking nice.

GROVER NORQUIST: Well I think he'd be a good President. He's certainly laid out a good position on
taxes - opposition to any tax increase and three important tax cuts.

BOWDEN: But let's face it, you wouldn't have said that some years ago would you?

GROVER NORQUIST: No because back starting in 2000 he went AWOL on the tax issue. We were harsh on
him at that point then when he moved back to his original position of being for lower taxes, we
were strongly supportive of that and so moving forward, I'm very cheerful - again not just on
taxes.

BOWDEN: Not only does John McCain need the votes of his party's right wing, he also hopes to
attract a far less conservative group - disenchanted Hilary Clinton fans.

SENATOR McCAIN: [At convention] I know how to reach across the aisle. I will attract Independents...
Democrats - by the way, those supporters of Senator Clinton I welcome you here today...

ED D'VIR: That's John McCain's signature. I also have his picture. I got a good close up of him
with me.

BOWDEN: After seeing John McCain today, Ed d'Vir is changing sides.

ED D'VIR: My vote was rigid for Hilary but there's a lot of Hilary supporters who are now shifting
over to John McCain only because they don't know what Barack Obama stands for and you know I feel
that John McCain has been there for the country, he's served in the war and he was a prisoner for
many years, so he has been through a lot of tough times and it's very tough being a President. If
he can withstand that, he can withstand being the President.

BOWDEN: But not everyone has such confidence in John McCain's character or leadership skills.

SENATOR DENIS DE CONCINI: It wasn't really until I saw him operate as a Senator here that I
realised that I could not trust him to deal with the problems we had in our best interests.

BOWDEN: You don't trust him?

SENATOR DENIS DE CONCINI: I don't trust him. No I don't at all.

BOWDEN: Well that's a pretty significant thing to say about a man isn't it?

SENATOR DENIS DE CONCINI : It is, yes it is.

BOWDEN: Former Democrat Senator from Arizona, Denis De Concini is among a number of politicians,
lobbyists and journalists who've spoken about the Senator's volatile temper.

DENIS DE CONCINI: When you disagree or challenge him, he's pretty good for one time or two times.
If you stay at it in disagreement with him, he has trouble keeping his cool and once he loses it,
he cannot control it. I've seen it just too many times to feel comfortable with him as President.

BOWDEN: You're partisan, you're a Democrat, do you think you would feel differently about Senator
McCain if you were a Republican? Is that why you feel this way?

DENIS DE CONCINI: If I was a Republican, having served with him I'd feel very strong too and a
number of Republicans feel very strong about him. He has left some indelible prints on people
because of his temper and his mood swings.

BOWDEN: Back in Arizona at Jack Husted's holiday barbecue, the host has no such doubts. He's
convinced John McCain should win and will.

JACK HUSTED: He believes in Americans controlling their own destiny. Everything is not a government
program and unfortunately people get the government they deserve and I would say that if the
country's not smart enough to elect a wise, proven leader as opposed to someone who has just been
in the Senate for a couple of years and can talk real good, we have to be better than that as a
country.

BOWDEN: But the challenges he faces are enormous, with the country still at war and the economy in
turmoil, a candidate from a different party representing change is hugely appealing and even some
members of John McCain's own team seem to have stopped barracking.

BAY BUCHANAN: Many conservatives feel it would be best for our movement for Obama to win because he
will rule from the left, we'll clean out our old ranks - the establishment - we'll bring in fresh
new faces and we'll be ready. For the conservative movement we're looking to the future, not today.

BOWDEN: But it's far from over. Given the complex and unpredictable nature of US presidential
campaigns, anything could happen in the fifteen weeks between now and election day.