On the heels of Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s visit on July 10 (see “Howard Dean at One Longfellow Square,” by Deirdre Fulton, July 10, at thePhoenix.com/AboutTown), another big name in national politics will grace our state with his presence. Republican presidential candidate John McCain will attend a private fundraiser in Kennebunkport on July 21; tickets for the event range from $500 for the general reception to $5000 for a round of golf. For $2300, donors can attend a “VIP reception” and photo op with McCain and former president George H.W. Bush at his Kennebunkport compound.
McCain won’t be so luxuriously welcomed by all Mainers, however. Left-wing protesters (many of the same ones responsible for the anti-war demonstrations near the Bush estate in Kennebunkport last summer — see "Kennebunkport Protest Expected to Draw Around 5000," by Deirdre Fulton, August 24, 2007) are planning a counter-reception that will amount to quite the opposite of rolling out a red carpet.
At 10 am on Monday, local peace activists will meet at the Kennebunkport Consolidated School on School Street for “a sidewalk protest march up to Walker’s Point where McSame will meet with Pappy Bush,” according to an e-mail blast sent out earlier this week. Then, they will gather outside the fancy Nonantum Resort, where the private and general fundraising receptions will take place.
Although Jamilla El-Shafei, an organizer well known for her anti-war activities in Kennebunk and throughout Maine, doesn’t know how many people will show up on Monday (which is, after all, a work day), she does know why she dislikes McCain.
“We think that a McCain presidency would be a continuation of ‘more of the same,’ which is why he got nicknamed McSame,” she says. “His foreign policies are following the Bush line, his policy with Iraq is the same as Bush’s policy. His position on torture is shameful, especially because he was in fact a prisoner of war. His rhetoric about Iran is very dangerous, and like Bush he does not speak about diplomatic solutions, he talks about bombing Iran. As far as his economic policies go, his mouthpiece said over the weekend that ‘We...are a bunch of whiners,’ and that the economy is strong. It shows just how out of touch McCain and his people are.”