Obama’s No Kennedy
A former RFK confidante leads McCain's rally in Gotham.


Deroy Murdock

“There’s no one I trust more with this flag than John McCain,” said Iraq War veteran Lee Zeldin, the GOP congressional candidate in New York’s 1st Congressional District and a father of two. “When I got back, John McCain thanked me for my service before I could thank him for his.”

Former Viet Nam prisoner of war Barry Bridger, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, offered stirring words about his one-time next-door-neighbor at the Hanoi Hilton.

“John McCain was the most seriously injured POW to arrive in Hanoi,” said Bridger about the man who spent much of five years in the cell beside Bridger’s. “He limped in with a broken leg, two broken arms, a broken shoulder, a bayoneted foot . . . and a bad attitude.”

Hofstra University College Republican Anthony Lucci thinks Obama’s pitch doesn’t add up.

Plainfield, New Jersey’s Richard Johns — a nursery and gardening contractor — was one face in the crowd. He jokingly called himself “Richard the Landscaper.” He described himself as a small businessman with ten full-time employees. He also adds new personnel seasonally. Johns echoed McCain’s recent focus on how Obama’s tax-hike plans will hammer small businessmen like himself.

“It’s about creating jobs,” Johns told me. “The more pressure we have in regulations and taxes, the more it pressures investment and growth.”

The economic downturn already has slowed Johns’ business. Among other things, his company installs Christmas lights on suburban homes. So far this season, his orders are 80 percent below last year’s.

The last thing Johns wants is a tax hike on his clientele.

“The people with money are afraid to spend it,” Johns said. “People just aren’t spending money because there is a lot of uncertainty. These are the people who hire us.”

As Johns spoke, the crowd was buoyed by a Zogby survey that showed McCain 1 point ahead of Obama on Friday night. They greeted this news beneath partly cloudy skies and a cool breeze — perfect weather for cautious optimism.

Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution. © 2008 Scripps Howard News Service.