Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined former state senator John
“Joe” Schwarz on a five-stop bus tour through southern
Michigan Saturday to back Schwarz’s bid for the Republican
nomination in the 7th Congressional District.

Although the purpose of the trip was to promote Schwarz, a
friend of McCain who ran his successful 2000 GOP presidential
primary campaign in Michigan, the Arizona senator had time between
stops to discuss the 2004 presidential election.

McCain said the Iraq war is the most important issue in the
campaign, relating that more than a dozen people had approached him
on the tour to express worry over the war.

“If we can bring the casualties down and show progress
toward democracy there, I think President Bush’s chances are
dramatically enhanced,” McCain said. “Three months ago
I would have said the economy was the main issue, but I do not
believe that now.”

While he has affirmed his support for Bush’s re-election
and displayed solidarity with Vice President Dick Cheney in Lansing
Friday, McCain said he would not engage in attacks on the
presumptive Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.

“I understand why they have to criticize Kerry and
Edwards,” McCain said. “I’m not gonna do
it.”

Discussing Kerry’s much-publicized overtures to join his
presidential ticket, McCain said he had several reasons for
declining, but his main reason was that he believes the presidency
would be weakened with a vice president of a different party.

“There can only be one president of the United
States,” he said. “There cannot be
co-presidents.”

Despite his opposition to a unity ticket, McCain remarked upon
the idea’s popularity among voters. He cited a poll in which
Kerry’s support jumped 15 percent with McCain as his running
mate, attributing enthusiasm for a bipartisan ticket to voters
“looking for a way out” of an excessively polarized
political atmosphere.

“The extremes have taken over the agendas of the
parties,” he said.

McCain also criticized negative advertising in the presidential
campaign, calling the amount of money spent on negative ads
“obscene” and noting that the spending has barely
affected polls. He predicted that the debates would have a greater
impact than advertising in the election.

This political climate has created what McCain called a
“legislative gridlock.”

One example of the excesses of partisanship, McCain said, is the
recently failed gay-marriage amendment. He called it a political
effort to shore up conservative turnout rather than a serious
policy endeavor.

“We spent a week on a constitutional amendment that no one,
absolutely no one, has the illusion of getting 67 votes,”
McCain said. “Why did we do this amendment right now? To fire
up our base.”

He added that the controversial amendment has effectively wasted
a full week at a time when Congress has less than a month to pass a
dozen appropriations bills.

McCain’s bipartisan message convinced some Michigan voters
to cross party lines for Schwarz.

Because “McCain rides the line between the two
parties,” Elizabeth Sickler, a Saline resident and Business
junior, said she plans to vote for Schwarz as a result of his
partnership with McCain.

“I’m actually a Democrat, but I support what they
support,” Sickler said.

However, McCain’s moderate views turned off many
conservative Republicans who came to watch the speaking tour.

At the rally in Adrian, where Schwarz was introduced by former
Democratic mayor Jim Berryman, protesters criticized
Schwarz’s support of abortion rights and McCain’s
flirtation with Kerry’s ticket.

Holding a sign supporting Schwarz primary opponent Tim Walberg,
Lenawee County resident Daniel Mosher criticized Schwarz as a
social liberal and McCain as a political opportunist.

“Schwarz is running under the Republican name, but he’s
supported by the Democratic Party,” Mosher said.

He expressed disappointment with McCain for supporting Schwarz,
a social liberal who is pro-choice.

“Why would he be here in support of someone who is
pro-abortion if he was solid on the issue?” Mosher asked.
“Let’s take a stand, John McCain, and stick with
it.”

“John McCain is out for a lot of John McCain,”
Mosher added.

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