Despite the early encouraging mood of the Log Cabin Republicans, John McCain’s all-out final push and rousing call to action seems to have come too late. McCain’s voice, however hoarse it may have been after a long and arduous day of campaigning, did not suggest defeat.
Late on the eve of Election Day, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain wound up a whirlwind seven-state sweep across what were seen as the election’s key battleground states with a stirring speech in his home state of Arizona. Before the Arizona senator took to the podium to make his final stand on Monday night, he was introduced by his wife, Cindy, whose voice quavered as she choked up while expressing pride in her husband and his accomplishments.
Some may have perceived Mrs. McCain’s show of emotion as a natural reaction to the end of an exhausting and rigorous campaign, but others wondered if it was a telltale omen of an impending defeat. If it was, nothing in John McCain’s voice, however hoarse it may have been after a long and arduous day of campaigning, suggested as much.
Surrounded by his closest friends in the Senate, senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, McCain implored the excited crowd in Prescott, Ariz., to stand up and fight with him one last time as polls showed him gaining on his Democratic rival Barack Obama amongst the constituencies that would decide the 2008 race for the White House. However, McCain’s all-out final push and rousing call to action seems to have come too late.
Buoyed by what appeared to be a close race, Log Cabin Republicans kicked off Election Day in Washington, D.C., on a note that was simultaneously positive and defiant.
“We’re optimistic about the election,” Log Cabin Republicans president Patrick Sammon said via e-mail early on Tuesday. “The news media seems to have forgotten that voters elect presidents, not political pundits. Every vote counts.”
Scott Tucker, Log Cabin Republicans communication director, echoed that sentiment, describing the mood in their offices as “hopeful.”
“Our national staff spent the morning waving signs for McCain on street corners and at a Metro station in Virginia,” Tucker said.
The sense that John McCain might pull off the biggest political upset of all time still floated gingerly around Republican circles.
Despite the encouraging mood of the Log Cabin Republicans, another conservative Washington insider expressed a slightly less enthusiastic outlook on the day.
“I’m being told by some Republican insiders that the mood right now is ‘expect the worst and hope for the best,’” said Washington, D.C.–based communications consultant and conservative political commentator Marc Destito.
“I noticed an incredibly long line at my polling station in D.C. this morning. Usually in D.C. the general election is an afterthought. The heavier turnout takes place during the primary since it is a Democratic city and that is when the true suspense happens. By Election Day it is a foregone conclusion who will win in D.C. But this year it almost seemed as if people were lining up, knowing Obama would carry the District, but just to be able to say that they cast their vote for something historic,” Destito continued.
By late afternoon the mood among the GOP faithful seemed to be growing more grim despite remaining somewhat cautiously optimistic.
While one Republican commentator excitedly bragged that things looked good because McCain was projected the winner in Kentucky early on in the evening, two others seemed resigned to defeat even at that early stage in what would ultimately turn into an evening filled with disappointment for the GOP.
When asked how she would be spending election night, one Republican activist simply said she’d be “drinking heavily.” When asked where the Republican Party will go from here, another said, “Figure out how to lose the moose.”
As most news outlets began to call the crucial states of Pennsylvania and Ohio for Barack Obama and it became increasingly apparent that McCain’s chances of winning were fading, the Log Cabin Republicans weighed in on the evening’s developments by announcing, “We will be issuing a statement when a winner is declared.”
Well, it wasn’t long thereafter before a winner was indeed declared. As soon as the polls closed in California, Barack Obama went over the top and Senator McCain quickly conceded in a conciliatory address. At that point, Log Cabin Republicans president Patrick Sammon issued the following statement:
“Log Cabin congratulates Sen. Barack Obama on his historic victory. While Log Cabin Republicans proudly supported Sen. JohnMcCain, we recognize this important moment in American history.
“On behalf of Log Cabin Republicans members all across the country, we thank Senator McCain for his service to our country. He should be proud of the campaign he ran, especially his efforts to reach out to gay and lesbian Americans. He was the most pro-gay GOP presidential nominee in American history. We were proud to stand with him in this historic election.”
And so the day that began with hope on all sides ended happily for some, and not so much for others.