McCain Courts Voters…Beyond the Grave?

By Nitya

Jan 15, 2008 11:57am

ABC News’s Bret Hovell reports from Traverse City, Michigan: It’s Election Day in Michigan and polls show the race on the Republican side too close to call. Senator John McCain woke up early to shake hands with voters at a precinct in northwest Michigan and maybe change a few minds.

Then he walked across the street and took a tour of a funeral home.

"It’s this beautiful, beautiful magnificent home…" McCain said at a rally following his tour in Traverse City, Michigan. "People are dying to get in there," he quipped.

The tour – needless to say – was unplanned. The trip to the precinct, funeral home notwithstanding, yielded few actual voters with whom to interact: it was 7:30 in the morning, cold and nearly pitch black. But one voter who did stop by to shake the Senator’s hand was in the right place at the right time.

McCain, R-Ariz., was chatting with a woman and commenting on how beautiful the neighborhood was.

"I wonder who owned that home back there?" the Senator asked. Rhetorically, he probably thought.

"We do," said the woman.

"It’s so magnificent," McCain offered. He paused for half a second. "Can I walk over and take a look at it?"

And so McCain, his wife Cindy – freshly back on the trail after knee replacement surgery – and a throng of traveling press marched down the slippery ice about a half a block to look at what truly was a beautiful Victorian style home – impressive in size and stature and craftsmanship. (In fact, many in the media had commented on how cool it was as we drove up in our press bus.)

As we walked, word that we were on our way to a funeral home made its way through the mob of reporters. Always anxious for a metaphor, we wondered what kind of omen is an election day visit to a funeral home? It was almost surely an unprecedented stop. 

"This is truly an OTR," said Brooke Buchanan, the McCain’s national press secretary, referring to the term for unplanned events along the campaign trail.

But maybe there’s value to courting the pine box vote. Dead people have been known to vote in certain precincts in Chicago – and McCain has been having some fun on the stump with the famous words of the late Mayor Daly of the Chicago, encouraging supporters to "vote early, and vote often."

So watch the returns from the 3rd precinct of Grand Traverse County. That visit might just pay off.

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