McCain Faithful Gather In Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) -- They wore buttons and T-shirts proclaiming "Victory 2008." They chanted their guy's name and, like the candidate they gathered to honor, projected optimism and faith.

But as Republican John McCain's election night rally wore on, organizers temporarily stopped broadcasting the returns overhead and announced few results, as if not to put a damper on the party. Those they did disclose lagged behind national projections showing Democrat Barack Obama gaining on McCain.

Even after Obama had been declared the winner in Pennsylvania and Ohio, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer walked on stage to tell the crowd about "another state in the McCain category. It's the great state of Louisiana!"

A roar erupted, and Roemer promised: "This election still has some anxious moments to go."

Returns unavailable to them, hundreds of supporters who gathered for the rally instead waved red pom poms and danced to Hank Williams Jr. singing, "Mac is going to survive."

In the back of the crowded ballroom, John and Carla Moore knew very little about how the election was going.

"He's already lost Ohio. They think. Right?" said John, who drove with his wife and three kids from Flagstaff, in northern Arizona, to attend the rally. "I'm wondering why they're not showing us that much. I wish I had a BlackBerry so I could track it myself."

They tried to put a positive spin on the information blackout:

"I'm sure it's going to be positive," said John. "Maybe they're building momentum."

His wife then added: "We sure want it to be positive."

After last-minute campaigning in Colorado and New Mexico, Arizona's adoptive son returned home Tuesday night to watch election returns and take to the manicured lawn of the Arizona Biltmore resort as the remarkable "comeback kid," or to concede defeat. A stage was set under towering palm trees, in the shadow of a mountain named for a fallen Army soldier.

The resort is the same place where, 28 years ago, McCain and his wife, Cindy, celebrated their wedding. And the McCain faithful who gathered in the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom started the night confident another celebration was in the making.

The night began appropriately enough with Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" booming from the speakers.

"I think the polls and the pundits are going to be very surprised," said Warren Watson, 68, clad in an American flag T-shirt and a Marine veteran baseball cap. His wife wore a pink tee that read, "Palin Power."

Still, said Watson's Sunday school teacher, Don Baker, should his man lose, "The world won't end tomorrow. We're good citizens. We need to support our government no matter who gets in there."

Others weren't so sure. Joyce Ready, 73, a retired accountant who was joined at the event by her 11-year-old grandson, used words like "very disappointed" and "afraid" in considering an Obama presidency.

"I'm very afraid that we're going to lose our freedoms, that the country will be controlled by almost a dictator."

Whichever way the night goes, she and her grandson, Sam, were thrilled to be a witness to history.

"This is gonna be a lifetime experience," said Sam, whose mom picked him up from school early so they could make the festivities. And he wasn't going home "'til it ends, I hope."

At that his grandma chimed in: "`Til the victory speech."

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  • by Karen Sperduti Location: Phoenix, AZ on Nov 6, 2008 at 08:07 PM
    I was VERY proud of Sam (I'm mom) Tuesday night. We explained to him the honor and chance of a lifetime he had by attending Tuesday night. He was interviewed by a minimum of 10 news outlets from around the world. I'm not sure why so many media people took an interest in him. It may have been his "Uncle Sam" style hat (the picture was carried by the Associated Press) or maybe just to see a youngster interested and/or participating in the election process. He is well aware of the importance of this past election. Thank you for publishing his thought.
  • by Fran Location: Phoenix on Nov 6, 2008 at 09:22 AM
    I'm Sam's grandma too, and as I watched the GOP Rally at the Biltmore and saw Samuel I wept with joy and pride. But I couldn't stop thinking about the job ahead for the future generations.God Bless them all!
  • by sad voter Location: nc on Nov 4, 2008 at 11:26 PM
    McCain is such a honorable and noble man. His dedication and loyalty to this country is unmatchable and no doubt unquestionable. And just as he did in the Hanoi Hilton 40 years ago, he will do anything for the great USA. Unfortunately, Ignorance of the people on this subject prevailed. Pray.
  • by Anonymous Location: greenville, blvd on Nov 4, 2008 at 09:38 PM
    I know so many are happy and many are sad, but if you ever want to move your heart and soul to a place where heaven truly can be in your view, then we really need to put away our preduice and hatred for each other and listen to that hope in your heart. I believe that we all desire to see Jesus, but hatred will keep us from that. Just think about it and make your future decision, remember God knows your heart, not me.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 4, 2008 at 09:34 PM
    I am a Obama supporter all the way. I have not liked the way McCain/Palin have run their campaign. I think Palin was the fall of McCain. However, I think McCains speech tonight was wonderful. I saw the McCain I use to like. Thank you. Now I hope we can put this behind us and move ahead to make the US a country we all can be proud of.

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