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Making sure McCain is safe

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By Jim Clark

One of my favorite television shows is "Monk." Tony Shaloub is a great actor who plays an obsessive compulsive. One of the scenes shown in the preview is when Shaloub is being searched with a detector wand and he bends in awkward positions to avoid being touched by the device.

That's how I felt last week as I attended the Florida Press Association convention in Orlando. On Thursday, Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, spoke to the group.

Beforehand, we had to go through security, and something in my pockets (turned out to be a pen) set off the lights, so the wand was used. You know, spread out your hands so we can cover you to see if you're carrying any weapons.

Before that, there were security personnel all over the ground floor of the hotel. The visit wasn't announced publicly, at least not where all the guests could find out, so you can imagine the looks on the Disney area visitors who saw deputies with metal detectors roaming the hallways. Of course, there were the guys in black suits who talk into their lapels (that may be a myth, didn't actually see that).

Remember, McCain is still a senator, and technically hasn't even been nominated yet. I've been through security when presidents were coming, and that's a lot worse.

But McCain came in and spoke, and I have to give him credit. There were huge screens set up around the hall as teleprompters for his speech, so big I could read them without my glasses, and that's big. But when McCain started talking, he wasn't following the teleprompters, he wasn't reading, he was speaking off the cuff. You could just see the teleprompter operator trying to move the text up and down to see where he was in the speech, and eventually they gave up and shut down the screens.

Meanwhile, McCain only spoke briefly, then held a "Town Hall" type meeting, taking questions from the floor. I was going to ask him why Charlie Crist, one of the vice presidential hopefuls, wasn't with him, but never got the chance. Turned out Crist was with McCain the next day in the Everglades.

After a while McCain left, and only then were we issued the courtesy convention tote bags. Can't have a bunch of people with tote bags trying to get past security.

One person talked to someone backstage and said there was tape on the floor shaped like arrows, pointing to the stage entrance. We wouldn't want to see the senator and his wife get lost, would we?

Incidentally, his wife was there only as window dressing. She was on stage when he was introduced, then disappeared and was never seen again.

We haven't heard much from McCain over the past couple of weeks because of the Obama-Clinton drama, but I'm sure he'll be back as a key figure in the news now. In the local Orlando papers, of course, he was big news the day after he spoke to us.

SPEAKING OF POLITICS: I had plenty of time this weekend to watch the news shows on television while waiting for my car to be fixed. One of the things I got to see was Hillary Clinton's speech on Saturday as she generally conceded to Barack Obama.

I found one set of comments very interesting. She said she ran as a daughter, going places her mother never thought she would be able to do. She also said she ran as a mother, concerned about the future for her daughter Chelsea. Both, of course, were admirable reasons.

It was what she didn't say that was interesting. She never said she was also running as a wife. I wonder where that leaves President Bill.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.