Remembering Sen. John McCain’s visit to Livingston County

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Sen. John McCain’s visit to Livingston County in January 2008 was exciting. Later that year he would secure the Republican presidential nomination and unleash Sarah Palin on the world; on that day, however, he was a presidential hopeful on the campaign trail who showed my kid how small the world really is.

Hundreds of people — from local politicians to area residents to members of the national media — turned out to see McCain at Crystal Gardens. The place was packed, and the energy in the building was palpable.

On our way to the event, I prepped my kid, who was just 8 years old.

“John McCain’s a great man,” I told him as we drove to Crystal Gardens. “He’s a war hero. He’s a senator. He’s a maverick. And you might be in the same room as the next president of the United States. How cool is that?”

I told him how I thought the event would unfold, how I expected him to behave, and how he was to remain within eye-shot of his parents at all times.

Will Stuart, in the foreground, as Sen. John McCain spoke to the crowd gathered at Crystal Gardens in January 2008.

At the time, as the managing editor of The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, I was there to work; however, my husband and son were there to see history and politics up close and personal. While they sat in the audience, I hung out at the press table with then-state Rep. Chris Ward, who was kind of like my political tour guide for the day, and Joe Klein, political columnist for Newsweek, author of “Primary Colors,” and a veteran of the campaign circuit. I have to admit being just a little star-struck.

The two-hour event was full of buzzy energy, and Will took it all in. McCain gave his stump speech, and then took a wide range of questions from the crowd. It was a spirited, respectful event that left me feeling good about politics in general and McCain in particular.

As people gathered for a chance to meet McCain, much to my amazement, my 8-year-old kid worked his way through the crowd so he could shake McCain’s hand and ask for his autograph. McCain charmingly obliged.

I didn’t vote for McCain when Election Day 2008 came around. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t long admired him. His military service is the stuff of patriotic legend, as was his consistent and admirable commitment to his principles. I will always be grateful, too, for the wonderful political example he set for a little boy on that day in January 2008.

RIP John McCain.

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About Maria Stuart 121 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.