John McCain gave one of his biggest speeches in Dayton area

Updated July 21, 2017
Sen John McCain announces Sarah Palin as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008 at the Nutter Center at Wright State University. Dayton Daily News photo

U.S. Sen. John McCain, who died on Saturday, made the Dayton area central to his presidential run in 2008.

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McCain, R-Arizona, chose Wright State University in Fairborn as the place he introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the world.

Standing onstage at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Aug. 29, 2008 - his 72nd birthday -  McCain made the announcement that Palin would be his running mate in the race against then-U.S. Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. 

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For many Americans it was their first look at a woman who ultimately became a household name.

“I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States… Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska,” McCain told the crowd.

McCain campaigned in southwestern Ohio several times before the announcement. he spoke to the NAACP annual convention in Cincinnati on July 16, and spoke in Lima on Aug. 8.

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Two days before his Dayton appearance McCain spoke by phone to a Dayton Daily News reporter. He was holding the Palin announcement close to the vest.

At the time the most prominently mentioned contenders for vice president were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Asked if there was someone else he was considering whose name hadn’t come up, McCain joked, “Well there is one, Wilfred Brimley.”

“He’s a nice supporter of mine,” McCain said of the TV pitchman known for his oatmeal commercials. “Former Marine.”

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During the interview McCain laid out an economic plan that included typical conservative fare - such as tax cuts and increasing the number of charter schools and vouchers for private schools.

But he also called for helping people refinance homes at risk of foreclosure, doubling the tax exemption for children and giving families a $5,000 tax credit to buy health insurance in those pre-Obamacare days.

As the country’s growing economic crisis threw people out of jobs and their homes, McCain said he was particularly concerned about heartland states like Ohio.

“We have seen manufacturing jobs flee,” said McCain. “We have people who are sitting around the table figurin’ out how they’re going to afford their health care and educate their kids. Many of (them) have recently and suddenly lost a job.”

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McCain said he wanted to fund retraining programs and increase the availability and affordability of student loans. He said he would resurrect the auto industry using high tech, hybrids and electric cars and give people a $5,000 tax credit to buy an American-made electric car.

“We’ve got to get our transportation system, our automobiles, off of gasoline as much as possible,” he said. 

After the event in Fairborn McCain hit the the state hard through Election Day. On Oct. 27, he campaigned again in Dayton. He also had events in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Here’s the complete text of McCain’s speech in Fairborn on Aug. 29, 2008:

The following is the text as prepared for delivery of John McCain’s speech in Dayton, Ohio, as provided by the McCain campaign.

It’s great to be back in Ohio. We need to win Ohio on November 4th, and with your help we’re going to win here, and bring real change to Washington, DC.

It’s been a long campaign and we’ve heard a lot of words, and great campaign trail eloquence. The amazing thing is that we’ve learned more about Senator Obama’s real goals for our country over the last two weeks than we learned over the past two years. It is amazing that even at this late hour, we are still learning more about Senator Obama and his agenda. He told Joe the plumber right here in Ohio he wants to quote “spread the wealth around.” It’s always more interesting to hear what people have to say in these unscripted moments, and today we heard another moment like this from Senator Obama.

John McCain introduces his vice presidential selection, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on Friday, Aug. 29, 2008, at the Nutter Center in Fairborn, Ohio. Staff photo by Lisa Powell

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In a radio interview revealed today, he said that one of the quote — “tragedies” of the civil rights movement is that it didn’t bring about a redistribution of wealth in our society. He said, and I quote, “One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change.”

That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor: It means taking your money and giving it to someone else. He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs. He is more interested in controlling wealth than in creating it, in redistributing money instead of spreading opportunity. I am going to create wealth for all Americans, by creating opportunity for all Americans.

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