Biltmore crowd awaits McCain

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PHOENIX — The Mac is back — in the Biltmore, that is.

Sen. John McCain arrived here at 7:40 p.m. Mountain Time and swept up to a spacious suite at the luxurious downtown hotel. Hank Williams Jr. is happily entertaining the still happy crowd of hundreds packed into the ballroom (TVs are not displaying the rolling totals — and losses in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc. Instead, a tally is running woefully behind, with states called for Sen. Barack Obama on the networks not posted for as much as an hour late).

A trickle of supporters is beginning to flow into a grassy expanse between buildings on the spacious spa grounds. The mood is still upbeat (some simply don’t know the tallies), but there are small groups gathered, talking in hushed tones.

“So what happened in Ohio?” one woman asked two others. “Did you hear …?” one man says to a group before talking softly, filling them in.

The setup for McCain’s speech was orchestrated by Bobby DiServi, a longtime Bush image maker. Two large blue banners featuring the “Country First” star bookend the stage, where a podium stands, TelePromters on either side. A giant U.S. flag serves as a backdrop.

— Joseph Curl, senior White House correspondent, The Washington Times

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