McCains raise funds, campaign in NJ

August 12, 2008 9:05:12 PM PDT
A group of teenage girls walked into a Red Bank diner Tuesday to get food, and left with autographs from a potential first lady - Cindy McCain. John and Cindy McCain were traversing the Garden State Tuesday, with each making fundraising and campaign stops.

Cindy McCain spent the day in Republican-friendly Monmouth County. She had breakfast at a private home in Rumson, then stopped by the Broadway Diner in Red Bank, where she shook hands with a lunchtime crowd and talked to teenagers about school before autographing their napkins.

Allyson Jablonski, a 15-year-old from Fair Haven, said it was a coincidence she and her friends ran into Cindy McCain, who was joined by state Sens. Bill Baroni and Jennifer Beck.

"We just walked in there and somebody told us that she was going to come," said Jablonski, who said she supports John McCain despite not being old enough to vote. "She was really nice and pretty."

Marianne Rhodes of Neptune and her sister, Ginny Marasco, of Eatontown, expressed their support for the Republican candidate. "We told her he (John McCain) had a good chance in New Jersey," Rhodes said. "New Jerseyans recognize they need the experience of Senator McCain."

Cindy McCain said gas prices and the economy are some of the top issues that people have brought up during her campaign stops. Her husband flew in to Newark Tuesday evening and headed to the Glenpointe Marriott hotel in Teaneck, where he spoke to about 400 people who paid between $1,000 and $25,000 for refreshments including hors d'oeuvres, a salad bar and assorted pastries.

McCain devoted much of his 15-minute talk to the conflict in Georgia, denouncing Russia's invasion of its neighbor.

"These are difficult times and the Russians have to understand that that kind of conduct was not acceptable in the 20th century and it's certainly not acceptable in the 21st century," McCain said.

He said the main issues of his campaign are reform, prosperity and peace. "We have to reform the way we do business" and stop out-of control federal spending, he said. "We have to bring back prosperity, keep taxes low and make sure we create new jobs."

Two of McCains campaign finance co-chairmen, Larry Bathgate and Lewis Eisenberg, spoke to the crowd as they waited for the candidate. Bathgate, an attorney and former finance chair of the Republican National Committee, said the day's events were expected to bring in about $1.5 million.

McCain won't eclipse the enormous fundraising advantage Democratic rival Barack Obama has built in New Jersey, but was hoping to narrow the gap.

"Sen. and Mrs. McCain are in New Jersey so often they are close to being residents," said Baroni, who chairs McCain's New Jersey campaign. "They have made it very clear New Jersey is in play in November. They are proving that by coming here and campaigning today."