Unhappy with senator’s voting record, protesters ‘divorce’ McCain

11-03-08 Divorce McCain
A reporter speaks to a bride at the Arizona Divorces McCain Rally at Madison No. 1 Middle School in Phoenix on Saturday.(Carlos Bravo/The State Press)
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Monday, November 3, 2008
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About 150 demonstrators criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s voting record at the Arizona Divorces McCain rally Saturday.

With polls showing the race between McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama tightening in Arizona, the Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice rallied at Madison No. 1 Middle School in central Phoenix near McCain’s campaign headquarters.

“Sen. McCain consistently voted against working families,” said Rebekah Friend, executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO labor union.

Friend added that Obama would bring economically sensible policies that will support businesses in Arizona, unlike McCain, whom she said had a poor voting record on business.

Referring to the theme of the rally, Friend said, “It is my third divorce — best one I have done yet.”

Demonstrators also said McCain showed a lack of support for veteran issues.

“I am not going to vote for him because he has not voted for veterans,” said communication junior Hari Khalsa, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Khalsa added that McCain didn’t support the new GI Bill, a measure passed this summer that provides educational funding for students like him.

The possibility of McCain losing his home state of Arizona was a theme that excited the crowd.

“Arizona is now a battleground state,” said Randy Parraz, a member of the Laborers’ International Union.

The latest polling has McCain and Obama in a statistical tie, with McCain having only a four-point advantage. The American Research Group poll has McCain at 50 percent and Obama at 46 percent while the NBC/Mason-Dixon poll has McCain at 48 percent and Obama at 44 percent. Each poll had a 4-percentage-point margin of error.

As the rally came to a close on the school grounds, demonstrators carrying pro-Obama signs continued by marching on Missouri Avenue to 16th Street, where McCain's campaign headquarters is located.

Lisa Blank, a member of Phoenix CodePink, performed a mock divorce ceremony between Arizona and McCain. Blank pulled off her wedding dress to symbolically show that she was freed from McCain.

Inside the campaign office, Wes Gullett, Arizona co-chair of the McCain-Palin campaign, said the “people out there are from the radical left” who want to end the war and are “surrender-first people.”

“I think the race has been about the same for a month, and it is closing up now because of the money [Democrats] are spending,” Gullett said.

Gullett added the Democrats have outspent Republicans in the state by six to one and “Arizona is a competitive state in general.”

“If McCain trusted polls, he would have not won in New Hampshire, Florida, California and other primary states,” said ASU law graduate student Michael Mitchell, a McCain volunteer.

“[Arizonans] might vote for a conservative Democrat, but they will not vote for the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate,” Mitchell added. “Voters will decide on Election Day if they are voting for John McCain.”

Reach the reporter at carlos.bravo@asu.edu.