The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

July 19, 2008

McCain proposes $2B for clean coal

When Sen. John McCain’s plane landed at the Tri-State Airport in Huntington July 9, it wasn’t because the Republican presidential candidate had any plans to stay long in West Virginia.

Rather, McCain and his staff quickly unloaded from the plane and hopped on his waiting campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express. The bus took the candidate across the Ohio River to a rally in Portsmouth, Ohio, a state that he made clear in an interview along the way he thought was critical in the upcoming presidential election.

“The last president to become successful and not carry the state of Ohio was (John F.) Kennedy,” he said. “Every successful presidential candidate since then has had to carry the state of Ohio.”

Ohio is a tempting prize, with its 20 electoral votes and polls showing McCain running neck and neck with Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama.

On the other hand, West Virginia, with a meager five electoral votes, isn’t nearly as eye-catching for the candidates. But McCain said it hadn’t been forgotten.

“It is another one of those states that is going to be a battleground state,” he said. “I intend to be there a lot.”

McCain, 71, clinched the GOP nomination for president in March, beating out other candidates who were generally viewed as more politically conservative. He has a reputation as a political maverick, parting with his own party on issues such as global warming, yet also voicing his support for keeping American troops in Iraq.

He didn’t carry West Virginia during the state Republican caucus in February, with the state GOP instead throwing its support behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — although many McCain supporters voted for Huckabee to deny McCain’s one-time rival Mitt Romney, who is the former governor of Massachusetts, a victory in the state. Still, a poll showed McCain with a small but comfortable eight-point lead over Obama among state voters.

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