McCain’s aim in Arizona: get out the vote tomorrow
TOM COLLINS Phoenix Citizen Bureau
PHOENIX – Returning to friendly ground, John McCain’s Arizona campaign is back to Politics 101: Get out the vote.
With his home state’s primary tomorrow, staffers and volunteers with the Arizona senator’s presidential campaign have been working phone banks and walking neighborhoods in Phoenix and Tucson, and putting South Carolina behind them.
”We’re just trying to turn out the vote. It’s very basic,” said Arizonan Wes Gullett, deputy national campaign manager for McCain 2000.
The campaign has bought a few radio spots, but stayed out of more-expensive television ads, instead focusing on volunteer door-to-door, telephone and early voting efforts, he said.
The day after McCain’s defeat by Texas Gov. George Bush in South Carolina, Gullett was distributing literature and polling place information to about 20 volunteers outside a McDonald’s in Chandler.
He told them to hang the fliers over doorknobs, ”just like the pizza man.”
Bush’s campaign, meanwhile, is conserving cash in Arizona, said a McCain supporter, Arizona House Speaker Jeff Groscost.
He disputed claims that attempts to portray McCain as a moderate will affect the Arizona race.
He said the massive support from Arizona’s conservative GOP establishment was evidence of the senator’s credentials. He said Gov. Jane Hull is the only notable defector who supports Bush.
Groscost dared the Bush campaign to hit the airwaves with anti-McCain advertisements here.
”That just increases the margin of John McCain’s victory,” Groscost said.
After the ”ugly, bitter” South Carolina GOP campaign, a win is a win, said Gullett.
”They said they were going to beat us here when they started,” he noted.
Roger Hyles, 35, a Chandler Intel engineer who spent 10 years in the Army, said he got involved with the McCain campaign through the Internet.
McCain’s promise to improve American military pay led him to get involved, he said.
”That’s a big issue militarywide,” Hyles said.
Hyles blamed Bush campaign attacks for McCain’s loss to Bush in South Carolina.
Suzy Howell, 55, who edits a Phoenix-area business review, was once a Democrat.
She changed her registration to Republican to vote for McCain, whose book on his Vietnam prisoner of war experiences, ”Faith of My Fathers,” was her inspiration.
Volunteering at a Phoenix phone bank this weekend, Howell said she was calling 40 to 50 voters an hour.
Her last political involvement was with the 1972 presidential campaign of Democrat George McGovern.
She said she probably voted against McCain as recently as his 1998 Senate re-election race. But without McCain, the presidential field looked bleak, she said.
CITIZEN ONLINE POLL RESULTS
If the Arizona Republican primary were held today, most Tucson Citizen readers said they would vote for U.S. Sen. John McCain for president.
Total responses: 107
Total for McCain: 69
Total for Bush: 32
Total for Keyes: 6
McCain Bush Keyes
Moral values 31 13 1
Taxes 6 13 0
Soc. Sec./Medicare 10 3 0
World affairs 10 0 0
Campaign finance reform 9 0 0
Abortion 2 0 2
Education 2 3 0
Responses were accepted online from Feb. 14 until Feb. 20.