McCain Relives Childhood in Antebellum South Tour

by Jake Maccoby and Jordan Zakarin

As part of his week long “200 Years Fighting” tour through the antebellum south, journalists and reporters on the John McCain campaign buggy today were treated to a walk through by the senator of his childhood in Mississippi, where he grew up in the early 1800s.

“I remember when all this was orange groves, just as far as the eye could see,” said McCain, gesturing vaguely across a Denny’s Restaurant. “Or cotton fields. Either orange groves or cotton fields. Something like that.”

Senator McCain allowed that his recollections were no longer particularly sharp.

“My memories of Mississippi are pretty hazy,” he said. “After all, I was in my early 60’s at the time. Or something—I forget.”

At a campaign stop in Biloxi, the senator outlined his vision for a rapid advance in technology, which he termed an “industrial revolution”. McCain used some of the innovative technological advances during his time in the state as examples.

“I remember how excited we all were when the cotton gin came out,” he said. “Now, you all have been using the cotton gin for years, I’m sure, but I remember when we—well, not me, personally, but you know, the help—had to separate all that cotton from the chaff by hand. Not easy for the help. It sure did build character, though. And that’s what this campaign is built on.”

In addition, the senator challenged the audience, which numbered in the dozens, to build on this success and to create new labor-saving devices. Among the technologies that he saw as potentially upgradeable were the radio, the typewriter, and the abacus.

“Just imagine what we Americans can do if we put our minds to it. If we really strive, with a national purpose, perhaps someday soon we can catch the British in textile production,” the Arizona senator remarked.

The Republican also used the occasion to stress the need for a strong national defense, a hallmark of his platform.

“My friends, in these uncertain times, we cannot be unprepared,” the senator stressed. “We are approaching a new frontier as we hitch our Conestoga wagons to the future. But my friends, new dangers await us. We must remain vigilant, and build up our defenses, so that we are ready to respond with great force to any attacks perpetrated upon us by the Red Army,” he said, referring to the belligerent Native American tribes he claimed were trying to subvert democracy.

“With a strong militia, we can send them back on a trail of tears; they will rue the day they decided to cross our great, manifestly destined nation.”

Later on, during a quiet moment on the campaign caravan, McCain commented that the makeup of his old plantation town had changed significantly.

“There used to be a lot more [African-American men and women] around, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “And they were the perfect example of what America needs at this trying time, with the kind of work ethic and drive to succeed that helped make this country great. Whatever happened to those guys, anyway?”

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