John McCain Visits UT

UT welcomed Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain to campus on Friday for a roundtable session to discuss current issues facing Americans.

The session took place in the Plant Hall Music Room just after noon, and topics included: dependency on foreign oil, the Iraq War, and border control. McCain reinforced his ideas of how America should be run.

Senator McCain acknowledged UT for allowing the session to take place, calling UT “a beautiful building and wonderful institution.”

Some UT students viewed the roundtable discussion. Student Government Vice President Tom McKissock acknowledged McCain’s visit, “I think it was good to see politics in action. I disagree with his views, but it was good to see his position.”

Sophomore Jessica English was impressed that UT hosted this event.

“This shows a lot about our campus and I think its exciting to have someone respectable on campus.”

McCain and his seven endorsers were welcomed by Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. McCain and the seven roundtable endorsers were ready to address matters, “I’ll give you straight talk,” said McCain. Former Pennsylvania governor and Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge moderated the session. Seven other members endorsed McCain’s campaign, calling him “the next president of the United States.”

McCain opened the session with thoughts of his own on the Iraq war.

“We are succeeding in Iraq, but we need a new strategy because the one we are using now is too old,” said McCain.

He is confident that the American troops can get the job done, and he says backing down is not a worthy idea.

“I will continue to do everything in my power so that Senators Clinton and Obama do not succeed in calling for a surrender in Iraq”

Among the panel members was Admiral Smith, who says McCain’s experience will help the U.S.’s situation in Iraq. Leading NATO forces in Bosnia, Admiral Smith shares a military background with McCain.

“John understands the facets of the military,” he said. McCain has an extensive history in combat. He served 22 years as a naval aviator for the U.S. military. As a POW during the Vietnam War, McCain suffered horrendous torture. He was freed years later.

Secretary of the Navy John Lehman was next to speak. He talked about McCain’s triumph through the investigation of 9/11.

“Senator McCain came up with the idea for the 9/11 commission,” he said. Lehman said McCain helped set up better communication between the military, FEMA, and local governments regarding safety measures.

Foreign oil was an issue repeatedly brought up in the roundtable session. With $400 billion spent going to oil-rich countries, often this money ends up in the hands of terrorists.

Jim Woolsey explained how Senator McCain encourages America to step away from this dependency. McCain recognizes renewable energy sources and is a proponent for using hybrid, solar, and nuclear sources.

“This is one of the areas where he has shown impeccable leadership,” said Woolsey.

Admiral Johnson discussed China’s status as a global superpower, saying McCain wants to keep good relations with China and steer this country in the correct direction.

With China building up its military, McCain is fearful and wants to ensure China will not take advantage of its powers. The U.S.’s building of combatant ships has severely dropped with only 300 remaining.

McCain seeks to keep strong alliances with Japan, Korea, and Singapore as China may become a future threat to these areas.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe welcomed McCain to the Tampa Bay Area. Sharp focused on the veterans’ services in the Bay area, addressing an issue that is pertinent during wartime. McCain feels the veterans’ health care system needs to be fixed. A heated debate between both Democrats and Republicans is border control. Although Mexican border control is more closely recognized, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty addressed the issue of border control with Canada.

“We need to make sure the relationship with Canada is in close coordination with the U.S.,” Pawlenty said. McCain has proposed tighter enforcement with the use of military vehicles, barriers, and UAV’s. Dear friend and long-time supporter of McCain, Senator of South Carolina Lindsey Graham addressed McCain’s extensive knowledge about the war.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in America that understands the war better than John McCain,” said Graham. He said McCain is committed toward the Iraq war. Without further endorsements from the roundtable members, McCain addressed other problems facing America. He stressed the idea that with an overstretched national guard, America needs to motivate more people in the military. Representatives from the AARP were among many public supporters.

“We were very happy to see that he recognizes us,” said Thelma Silver of Brandon, Florida. McCain closed the roundtable session saying, “America’s best days are ahead of us.” McCain answered direct questions from the press about issues, some pertaining to Florida.

“Florida is a diverse state that leads the country in many areas,” McCain said. In reference to hurricane safety and in response to Hurricane Katrina, McCain says he will fix FEMA. McCain plans to bring in the private sector to help fix problems that resulted from the failure of FEMA is response to Hurricane Katrina.

McCain also addressed issues important to many in Tampa’s Latino population. He hopes to free Cuba and its citizens from Fidel Castro’s dictatorship.

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