Samantha Hayes, in Washington, DC
May 27, 2008
Nobody likes to be interrupted, and today it happened to John McCain four times. McCain was delivering a speech about the danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons at the University of Denver. It was a timely subject, given the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report that Iran is withholding critical information about whether or not it is trying to make nuclear weapons. And former President Jimmy Carter's recent claim that Israel has at least 150 nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, there were some people in the audience who had only one thing on their minds: ending the war in Iraq.
A few minutes into McCain's speech, you could hear protesters in the back of the room chanting, "Endless war. Endless war." They were two men who looked young, wearing khaki pants with their shirts untucked. They tried to hold up a banner, which they quickly realized was upside down. McCain stopped, looked down, and cracked a slight smile as he heard his audience drown out the protesters with a three syllable chant: "John Mc-Cain. John Mc-Cain."
Three more times he was interrupted and in a response that was pure McCain, he said, "I have town hall meetings all the time, I'll be having one tomorrow, where people are allowed to come and state their views and we exchange them and one thing we never do is interfere with other people's right to free speech, but, that doesn't seem to be the case with these people."
The hecklers were escorted out, and McCain finished his talk by elaborating on his proposed nuclear policy. But his most emphatic statement from the event may be something else he said in response to the protestors. At one point, McCain took his eyes off the TelePrompter and looked directly at his audience and said, "And by the way, I will never surrender in Iraq. Our American troops will come home with victory and with honor."
McCain will most likely face war protestors again, but it looks like he's ready for them, and the inevitable interruptions.