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Tue, June 18

McCain returns to courthouse steps of Goldwater fame

Sen. John McCain

Courtesy<p> Sen. John McCain

PRESCOTT - Republican presidential nominee John McCain will return to Prescott Saturday to climb the Yavapai County courthouse steps where Barry Goldwater announced his run for president in 1964.

While McCain calls Goldwater his mentor, he obviously wants a different outcome for his presidential campaign. Goldwater suffered one of the worst Republican losses in U.S. history to Lyndon Johnson.

But in recent years, it's popular to resurrect the Goldwater name - even with Hillary Clinton, who proudly wore the "AuH2O" chemical symbols for gold and water while campaigning for Goldwater in 1964.

Both Clinton and McCain have praised Goldwater in their memoirs and elsewhere.

"In uniform and politics, Barry's purpose was the defense of freedom, and nobody before or since managed the task more ably or more colorfully," McCain wrote of Goldwater in the Washington Post the day after Goldwater's death in 1998. "He was an authentic, original and passionate patriot."

While Goldwater never lived to see McCain run for president, Goldwater did make a presidential comment about Hillary at least once.

"If (Bill Clinton) would let his wife run business, I think he'd be better off," Goldwater told a Washington Post reporter during Bill Clinton's presidency in 1994.

It's rare for Democrats to make speeches on the Yavapai County courthouse steps since Goldwater did it, so people shouldn't hold their breath waiting for Hillary's visit. But just about every Republican state and local candidate has followed Goldwater's steps.

McCain plans to speak to supporters on the courthouse steps shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday.

It's the last stop on his six-day "Service to America" tour, and the only stop in his home state of Arizona.

"Throughout the tour, he's visiting areas with a significant impact on his values and how he approaches leading America," McCain campaign spokesperson Jeff Sadosky said.

While McCain will discuss his relationship with Goldwater, Sadosky said McCain also will talk about how Goldwater got along so well with the late Democrat Morris Udall, who served Arizona's 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years through 1991. Udall also ran for president, losing to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 primary.

Goldwater and Udall sat at opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet they worked together for the good of the American people, Sadosky said.

So McCain will cite their relationship when he highlights the need for unity and bipartisan work in Congress, Sadosky said.

Previous stops on the "Service to America" tour included Meridian, Miss., where McCain's relatives settled in 1848 and where a naval air station is named for his grandfather; Alexandria, Va., where he attended high school; Annapolis, Md., where he attended the Naval Academy; and Pensacola, Fla., where he attended Navy flight school. Today he's in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was stationed in the military.

McCain succeeded the five-term Goldwater in the U.S. Senate in 1986.

Goldwater's stance against the Civil Rights bill and willingness to use nuclear bombs against Vietnam didn't help his 1964 presidential campaign.

Today, he's more remembered for his uncompromising stance for constitutional freedoms.

History generally credits Goldwater with sparking the resurgence of conservatism in the 1950s and 1960s.

"He transformed the Republican Party from an Eastern elitist organization to the breeding ground for the election of Ronald Reagan," McCain once said.

But Goldwater lamented the increasing influence of religion in conservative politics. When Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell said "Every good Christian should be concerned" about the nomination of Arizonan Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, Goldwater countered that "Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."

While McCain had his own period of criticism for the religious right - he once called Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" - he has made conciliatory moves toward the religious right in recent years as he began to plan his second run at the presidency.

He seemingly must prove his conservatism even though the American Conservative Union gave him a lifetime rating of 83, not too far below Newt Gingrich's 90.

McCain still carries the moniker of maverick for his stances on issues such as campaign finance reform, immigration policy and embryonic stem-cell research.

But he doesn't go along with some of Goldwater's more controversial libertarian stances such as support for abortion and gay rights.

Barry Goldwater's granddaughter C.C. Goldwater and Stephanie Miller, the daughter of Barry Goldwater's vice presidential running mate Bill Miller, are running a satirical presidential campaign this year.

Their website at ponders who has the right to associate themselves with "Mr. Conservative" Barry Goldwater.

Judging by their comments, they don't believe it's the Republican Party.

But they don't mention McCain's name, either.

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