McCain counters demands for officialization of English on campaign train

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Aug 12 13:46:54 UTC 2007

McCain faces immigration worries, vows to secure borders
By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer  |  August 11, 2007

CONWAY, N.H. --Frustration over illegal immigration followed Sen. John
McCain on Sunday as he finished up a three-day campaign trip to
eastern New Hampshire. At a VFW hall in Conway, a woman who had
questioned McCain the night before in Wolfeboro confronted him again,
pushing him to support making English the nation's official language.

"I'm terribly concerned there's real danger we're going to lose our
country from within," said the woman, who refused to give her name.
"Even if we make English the national language, what difference does
it make if you can vote (in Spanish), if where everywhere you go, the
hospitals are obliged to provide interpreters? We need one language."

McCain said he believes more must be done to require immigrants to
learn English, but matched her suspicions with some of his trademark
straight talk.

"I'd also like to tell you that in my state of Arizona, we like the
Hispanic heritage. We like the food. We like the music. We like to
have Hispanic influence on our state and we are enriched by it," he
said, reminding her that similar fears greeted waves of Irish, Polish
and other immigrants in generations past. "I understand your concern
that our traditions and our culture and background are being
overwhelmed by another culture, but I believe we're stronger than

McCain's campaign has been in decline in part because of his unpopular
support for the sweeping immigration reform package that failed in
Congress earlier this year. Over the last few days, McCain has
emphasized that he still believes in that plan --which would have
created a temporary worker program and have allowed millions of
illegal immigrants to eventually apply for legal status -- but
realizes now that none of that can happen unless the borders are
secured first.

"Let me make it very clear: I have not changed my position," he said
at a house party in Milton. "I still want a temporary worker program.
I still think we shouldn't have 12 million people ... that we don't
know who they are or what they're doing. But I understand that people
want our border secured."

Dave Walker of Rochester agreed, telling the Arizona senator he
doesn't want to hear any more about the guest worker program until
that happens. Walker said later he supported McCain's 2000 campaign
and is 95 percent sure he'll support him again, but the immigration
issue is holding him back.

"His support of that bill hurt him, it hurt him badly," he said,
adding that he was encouraged to hear McCain proposing having
governors in border states certify that their borders are secure.

"There is a genuine, deep concern about the preservation of our
culture. They feel it's under assault," McCain told reporters. "It's
very obvious that they don't believe that we're securing our
borders... I strongly understand, better, that people don't trust us."

In Conway, McCain also faced tough questions on his support for the
war in Iraq from an independent voter who accused him of embracing
President Bush's views.

"I was shocked, I thought you were a man who was going to stand up to
Bush ... and stand your ground," said Robert Donahue of Bedford. "When
I saw you embracing Bush, I was very disappointed and it's very
difficult for me now to justify my vote for you in 2000."

McCain reacted strongly, reiterating that has been a vocal critic of
former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and pushed for the new
strategy the Bush administration now is using in Iraq.

"You and I may have a disagreement about the Iraq war, but to say I
embraced President Bush's policy in Iraq -- I fought it tooth and nail
every chance I had, but I believed we had to win, and I still believe
we have to win," he said.

The two went back and forth for several minutes, with McCain answering
each of Donahue's concerns. According to the campaign, he later
approached McCain and said he would support him.

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