McCain relaxed and funny | AspenTimes.com

McCain relaxed and funny

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Sen. John McCain can be quite the comedian.

That appeared to be the consensus from many spectators who watched the Republican presidential candidate speak Thursday at the Aspen Institute.

Those who watched McCain from the “cheap seats” in the Paepcke Auditorium, where viewing was free as opposed to the $10 admission under the sold-out Greenwald Pavilion tent, laughed more at what he had to say than they applauded him for it.

Regardless of whether they were Republicans or Democrats, observers said they felt a sense of relaxation and confidence exuded by McCain.

“He is speaking very well,” said Gerry Vander Berk of Glenwood Springs, who is a Barack Obama supporter. “He is a very qualified candidate but I just don’t agree with him on major, essential policies like Iraq and energy.”

The first thing 23-year-old David Lazar, a part-time resident of Aspen and Los Angeles, noticed was that McCain’s shirt was unbuttoned, exposing his belly. David’s mother, Carole Lazar, said the wardrobe malfunction was distracting.

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“It upset me,” adding she hopes McCain’s handlers help him with his wardrobe in the future, as well as his overall look. “He should bond his teeth.”

But aside from his appearance, Carole Lazar and her family, including her husband, son, David and his twin sister, Kate, said they thought McCain presented himself and his positions well.

“I thought he was pretty human,” Carole said.

“He’s funnier than I expected,” said David, who is supporter of McCain’s, along with the rest of the Lazar family.

His sister, Kate, said she is still trying to understand the issues so she can debate them with her California friends who are Obama supporters.

She said a lot of what McCain talked about on Thursday went over her head but some of it ” like McCain’s support for building nuclear power plants in the United States in an effort to sustain the nation’s energy supply ” Kate understood.

“I trust my parents … my family is the kind of family who sat around the dinner table and talked politics,” she said, adding that, as a ballet dancer, she didn’t pay much attention. But now she is, seeing as though she will be voting this November for the first time in her life.

“I found him charismatic,” Kate said of who she hopes is the next president of the United States.

Aspen Chamber Resort Association President Debbie Braun said she was impressed with McCain’s positions.

“It was interesting and very good,” she said, declining to state her party affiliation. “He showed his human side.”

Aspen High School juniors Samantha Crippen and Sarah King walked away from McCain’s speech with more knowledge of national politics. They both acknowledged that their peers in school are mostly Democrats.

“His points of view are pretty good and consistent,” King said, adding her parents are McCain supporters.

“I support his viewpoints on oil and the war,” Crippen said, whose parents also are McCain supporters.

An Obama supporter said McCain came up short on Thursday because he talked in generalities and not specifics. And he said he fears Republicans will gain support regardless.

“They are going to package this guy,” he said.

Those leaving the Institute’s campus commented that McCain spoke knowledgeably without referring to notes and that he will hold up well in upcoming debates, based on Thursday’s presentation.

Passersby were repeating the jokes McCain told about pigs in Iowa, dogs and trees in Arizona, and gas prices in Aspen ” which he joked were a result of liberals taxing the rich.

Other were overheard criticizing and critiquing McCain’s statements: “He said we were attacked in places where we weren’t just to make a case for the war,” and “I would have handled the draft question differently.”

Those who support McCain said there wasn’t a bad answer that came out of his mouth. “He was totally relaxed, I have never seen him like that before.”

csack@aspentimes.com

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