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Columbia Missourian

McCain to stop in Columbia on Monday, spokeswoman says

By Amanda Woytus, Chad Day, Sarah Palmer
October 16, 2008 | 10:05 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain plans to visit Columbia on Monday, Missouri Republican Party spokeswoman Tina Hervey said in an e-mail.

Hervey added that specifics on McCain's visit would be forthcoming from his campaign.

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The Boone County Sheriff's Department was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service earlier this week about working with Columbia and Boone County law enforcement as part of McCain's security detail, Maj. Tom Reddin of the Sheriff's Department said.

McCain will be in Prince William County, Va., on Saturday and Toledo, Ohio, on Sunday. His campaign Web site lists rallies in St. Charles and Belton scheduled for Monday.

Calls to the Secret Service concerning specific details about McCain's visit were referred to his campaign.

McCain campaign spokeswoman Wendy Riemann said Thursday that she could not confirm the visit.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is scheduled to make campaign stops in both Kansas City and St. Louis on Saturday.

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll released Oct. 13 shows Obama leading the race with 53 percent of voters saying they would vote for him if the election were held today, while 39 percent say they would vote for McCain.

But one Boone County Republican suspects that polls such as the New York Times survey are not as accurate in this election as they have been in the past.

"Right now, it looks to me like McCain ought to be ahead," said George Parker, a longtime Republican active in the county. "I think that people are embarrassed to have anyone think they would not vote for a certain person because of race or anything else. That might cause the polls to be off."

James Endersby, an associate professor of political science at MU, said that McCain is probably coming to Columbia because Missouri is "still in play" and is a toss-up state. Missouri also has a history of voting in favor of the winner.

"Typically, Missouri goes the same direction as the winner. The exception was the 1956 race between Stevenson and Eisenhower," Endersby said.

Missouri holds 11 of the 538 electoral votes in the Electoral College. A candidate needs 270 to win the election.

McCain will probably give "the typical stump speech," Endersby said, but added that he heard McCain's speech was recently rewritten to be more forceful.

Whatever speech McCain decides to give, Endersby said that he has to shore up some more Republican support, while still attracting the attention of independent voters.

Endersby predicted that the closer the election gets, the more candidate visits Missouri will see. Because Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden already stopped in Columbia in September, Endersby predicted that Obama won't be making an appearance but will focus instead on the bigger cities.

"But you never know," he said.

The advantage of coming to a smaller town like Columbia, Endersby said, is that "the market is smaller." McCain will probably receive more favorable attention, he said.

"Whenever a presidential candidate comes, it creates a lot of excitement for supporters," he said.

Parker said he thinks many voters make decisions based on personality rather than issues. McCain's speech may help those people get a better idea of the candidate.

"I think they look at Obama and they look at John McCain and they think ‘Who is the best person and who is the most qualified to run this country?'" Parker said. "What people have to decide is who is the person you trust no matter what the issue. Who is the honest, decent person who has enough knowledge to lead this country?"