Tuesday, July 29, 2008

John McCain Fundraiser in San Fran

Senator John McCain flew into San Fran late yesterday afternoon to held a fundraising dinner in the Fairmont Hotel. The hotel is in Nob Hill above Union Square.

While his cavalcade drove straight into the garage at the back of the hotel at around 5.30 pm, pavement supporters and detractors lined the narrow street at the imposing front entrance. The protest, with about 200 people, was peaceful with Democrats and other anti-McCain demonstrators outnumbering those for him.

Which perhaps was only fair as he had his supporters inside the hotel!

As the TV cameras came down the crowd, having filmed McCain's arrival, one group, Democracy in Action, began a few chants of 'No more Bush!'

And down the narrow street driving slowly in circles around the block was the huge Bush Legacy Tour bus run by Americans United for Change. (for more info see http://www.bushlegacytour.com/page/content/aboutthetour/ )

A private car with the slogan 'Impeach' also made a drive past.

One group that stood out were older members of the Asian community who had gathered behind supportive posters proclaiming 'Go McCain Go' and 'Asians for McCain.' But the three frontmen did not wish to be interviewed. Nevertheless there were some twenty people with them enjoying the event.

And not only were San Franciscans there. Four young Spanish journalists spent their last evening in the city adding their voice to the occasion.

Gabie, a member of Democracy in Action in patriotic hat, held aloft a large poster-photo of McCain. She was surrounded by posters of 'McCain, McSame, McBush,' and 'McBush III'

'We're trying to prove McCain is the same as Bush,' she explained.

Democracy in Action appeared to be the largest group there, certainly the most vociferous. 'We have a data base of 1,500,' said their leader, Alex, as he strode across the road on one of several forays to chivvy members on the other side of the street.

A few yards along stood longtime member of the Democratic Club in the city, Elsa, mother of two girls and four grandchildren.

'Bush has been an absolutely immoral president and has ruined college education and the environment,' she said, citing just two of the areas in which she thinks he has been a catastrophic failure.

Why did he go to war?

'He sold to the oil companies. They are the ones who gave him his money to campaign for president - also the Christian right in the south,' she added. But to her, his approval rating of 17 per cent spoke volumes.

Nearby, on the edge of the pavement, were Alex, Irina, Angela and Manuel, the Spanish newspaper journalists holidaying in San Fran. Alex was holding one of the 'McCain, McSame' placards while Irina, broad smile on her face, waved a star-spangled 'Octogenarians for Obama.'

'Obama is our hero!' she enthused.

Speaking in part through translation with Alex, Angela said, 'McCain does not concentrate.....He is not interested in the real problems of the US. He works for other people.' Her meaning being that McCain focusses his policies on the wealthy rather than the ordinary people of America.

As they spoke of Obama's recent visit to Europe, Irina declared, 'Europe is in love with Obama!'

Another McCain critic was Melanieblau. She stood by herself with a bright yellow poster proclaimiing 'No Soldier Left Behind.' Melanieblau works with PeaceActionWest (for info see peaceactionwest.org).

'A vote for McCain is a vote for continuation of Bush's failed domestic and foreign policies. The US' role in the world should not be an imperialistic one,' she said, calling for an immediate end to the war. 'When other countries have pulled out of Iraq, we have seen a huge drop in the number of Jihadist and terrorist acts.'

In her opinion, the reason behind the war was 'imperialism,' with Bush heavily influenced by an organization called People for a New American Century.

On the other side, though, both of the street and political viewpoint, were a small knot of blue placard carrying supporters of McCain.

For Luis, one of the strengths of McCain has been his willingness to take a stand on the surge in Iraq that is now achieving success. 'I think McCain has been a supporter of what even Obama admits is a success,' he said, adding that Obama can't escape the fact that he opposed the surge.

Of the war, he said, 'The real question is what do we do now?' The need, he said, was to find a solution on the ground first, and then 'figure how to work out troop reduction.'

Next to him was Tina, from a military background who felt that a lot of the demonstrators' disgruntlement with America was born of lack of experience of life elsewhere.

'A lot of people take for granted what we enjoy in this country, personal freedoms, economic opportunities, the possibilities here. And I'm a person who grew up - my father was a military person - seeing the sacrifices they made. Lots of people haven't travelled abroad and so don't realise how good it is here.'

Of the election, she said, 'John McCain, he's really been his own man. He's led the fight on difficult issues. He's a man of integrity. So I'm here to support that.'

Was she worried about his age? She laughed. 'I count it as wisdom!' she said.

For an album of pics click here. Click on pics to enlarge.

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