McCain Volunteers Disappointed

Nov 5th, 2008 | By ffolwell | Category: Latest News

November 4, 2008

By Jed Layton

Phoenix, Arizona — Mark Simmons refused to give up hope. 

He held red streamers in one hand and a plate of spicy nachos and salsa in the other.  Every few minutes he would put the streamers down and run his hand through his hair.  Wrinkles of worry lined his forehead and a small frown creased his mouth as he stood amid the crowd at the Republican National Party election night gathering.

Even as CNN projected Senator Barack Obama to be the next president after polls closed on the west coast, Simmons refused to believe what he was seeing. “It does not look good, I will admit that,” he said. 

Simmons, from Mesa, Arizona, volunteered for McCain the past two months, even traveling to New Mexico twice to knock on doors. “I am a bit worried but I still have hope.  McCain supporters never give up because McCain never gave up,” said Simmons.  A few thousand miles away, jubilant Obama fans were gathering in Chicago’s Grant Park to await the appearance of the next president of the United States.

At the ritzy Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, thousands of supporters crowded into ballrooms, conference rooms, restaurants and the courtyard lawn hoping to see Sen. John McCain achieve victory.  Instead, partygoers saw their candidate defeated by a large margin.  McCain volunteers were the hardest hit emotionally.

Mike Andrews spent Election Day at the McCain GOP Headquarters making phone calls, encouraging people to vote.  He is from Virginia but traveled to Arizona to campaign for McCain.

“I have not seen my wife in three months,” he said.  “So I it will be really hard for me if McCain ends up losing tonight.  I think Obama volunteers would take it the same way if he loses.  He put a lot of heart, time and money into these campaigns.”

The night started out well for McCain supporters.  The Arizona senator was the first to obtain electoral votes winning Kentucky.  He quickly added West Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

McCain is looking good right now,” said Jerry Fawcett, a private contractor from Gilbert, Arizona, when McCain led in electoral votes 21 to 3.  “If I were Barack Obama, I would be pretty worried right now.”

Later, as Obama was projected the winner in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, reality began to set in.

Cherry Freeman, from Scottsdale, Arizona, had tears in her eyes as she pulled out a calculator and began to do Electoral College math. 

She punched in 207—the number of electoral votes Obama had at 9:40 p.m. —and then put in 55, 11 and seven—the number of electoral votes for California, Washington and Oregon.

“The three west coast states are going to go for Obama,” she said as the total came out to 280, 10 points more than needed to win the election. “Oh, well.  I have put a lot of effort into this campaign.  A lot of time away from my kids and my family and my job.”

Soon after Obama was designated the winner, McCain addressed supporters and volunteers in a concession speech in the courtyard of the hotel.

“We fought as hard as we could, and though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours,” McCain told his followers.  “The road was a difficult one from the outset.”

Rondi Warner, a part time volunteer for McCain, was impressed by his remarks.

“He is a good man.  He wants us to support the country, even if that means supporting Obama,” she said.  “I do not think it was his fault he lost.  It was just a hard situation for any Republican.  I do not regret volunteering for him, but I wish the outcome was different.”

McCain called the campaign the most challenging of modern times and said he was not sad that he made the run for the presidency.

“I won’t spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been,” he told the crowd.



Tags: , , , ,

Leave Comment