Impressed with Americans who are now “more patriotic than any generation ever was,” Sen. John McCain last night praised a nation still reeling more than a month after terrorist attacks rattled its foundation and offered his perspective on the U.S. response during an appearance in Ann Arbor.

Paul Wong
State Sen. John Schwarz of Battle Creek shakes hands with Arizona Sen. John McCain last night during a campaign fund-raiser at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ann Arbor. Schwarz is a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan next year.<br><br>DEBBIE MIZEL/D

The results of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks became the focus of McCain”s speech yesterday at a fund-raiser for Michigan gubernatorial candidate John Schwarz, a Republican state senator from Battle Creek.

During the event, McCain frequently told reporters and donors that it is OK for American citizens to be afraid, so long as that fear is controlled.

“So be afraid, but fly the airlines and make your purchases,” said McCain, the Arizona Republican who ran a failed presidential campaign against George W. Bush last year.

As the United States continues its second week of airstrikes in Aghanistan, McCain, who has served for 15 years in the Senate and currently holds a position on the Armed Services Committee, said he supports wholeheartedly President Bush”s attempts to oust the Taliban from power.

“No regime that believes that women should not work, receive an education, or health care should stand,” he said.

If the United States is successful in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban, McCain would support a United Nations role in rebuilding the fractured nation.

“The U.N. isn”t very good at peacemaking, but it”s pretty good at peacekeeping,” he said.

McCain further advocated an expanded war on terrorism one that stretches beyond Afghanistan”s borders to countries such as Syria and Iran that harbor known terrorists. As to how long U.S. military attacks might last, McCain said he did not know but that “we probably will take casualties” and that “the more our adversaries think we”re steadfast, the shorter it”ll last.”

McCain”s speech turned personal last night as he recalled a former campaign worker of his who was one of the victims on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. It is believed that the plane was headed for the U.S. Capitol or another target in Washington before passengers thwarted the terrorists, bringing the plane down. McCain was in the Capitol on the morning of Sept. 11.

McCain said he believes the former staffer may have played a part in bringing the plane down before it neared Washington.

“Mark Bingham may have saved my life and the lives of others,” he said.

Although much of the speech focused on the attacks, the main reason McCain appeared in Ann Arbor was to kick off Schwarz”s campaign for governor. Schwarz is now fighting an uphill battle for the GOP nomination against Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus.

The GOP establishment in Lansing has overwhelmingly supported Posthumus, but Schwarz is hoping he can attract moderate Republicans and independents to vote for him, as he did for McCain during his successful 2000 presidential primary campaign in Michigan, which Schwarz chaired.

Schwarz, a University alum, promoted himself as someone with the necessary experience and integrity to run Michigan during an economic downturn and cited his role as chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding of higher education as proof.

“When it comes to university appropriations, there”s no maize and blue and green and white. I”m fair,” he said.

Medical School Dean Allen Lichter, who classified himself as a “card-carrying independent,” was one of Schwarz”s supporters in attendance last night.

“Senator Schwarz has been a great friend of U of M and many of us who are in the University leadership recognize that and have not forgotten what he has done for us over the years,” Lichter said. “He”s been helpful in making sure that the views of U of M are represented in Lansing.”

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