- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS | Virginia delegates here this morning heard perhaps one of the more unique and offbeat strategies for propelling Sen. John McCain to the presidency.

Republicans can keep young voters who support Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama at home by giving their young relatives and friends gift cards to iTunes and Starbucks that are good only on Election Day, Nov. 4.

“That’s the only way to keep them away from the polls,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of the Polling Company, during a breakfast with the delegates at their hotel near the University of Minnesota.

Mrs. Conway told the delegates that Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, can only win if young voters stay home as they usually do in elections.

In other national and statewide races, Republicans “will get their clocks cleaned up and down the ticket,” Mrs. Conway said.

- Jon Ward

Straight-talk attraction

The plane is suddenly full.

That’s the Straight Talk Express, the one ferrying Sen. John McCain from city to city, event to event, across the country.

A year ago, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was humping it through airports carrying his own bag as he flew commercial. “The most coveted ticket now is to travel around with John; back then, it was an easy ticket,” longtime friend Sen. Lindsey Graham told this reporter a while back

The press corps rides in the back of the 737, emblazoned with the McCain emblem. A few months ago, the plane was half empty, with reporters enjoying a full row to themselves. Now, they sit six across, usually with bags piled up because the overhead compartments are packed with TV equipment.

The plane has a homey feel. Reporters and TV crews have stuck up dozens of photos from stops across the country - a shot of r. McCain and former President George H.W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine; a picture of staff and press on a Gulf Coast oil rig; a photo of reporters with an eerily lit Mount Rushmore in the background. Stickers line the wall: One says “Tough? You Want Tough? I Travel With John McCain.” Another says: “McCain Summer Fun Tour.”

- Joseph Curl

Bipartisan rage

Don’t accuse Rage Against the Machine of showing preferential treatment.

The rap-rockers known for political anthems like “Killing in the Name” and “Bulls on Parade” played to an estimated crowd of 9,000 last week in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. The show was sponsored by Tent State University and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

But seemingly not wanting to direct their angst simply toward Democrats, the group - whose lead singer Zack de la Rocha made familiar waves last year by declaring that the Bush administration contained war criminals who should be “hung, and tried and shot” - will be playing a show during the Republican National Convention at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

The group’s guitarist, Tom Morello, also was expected to provide an extra dose of anti-Republican sentiment during a Monday performance at the Take Back Labor Day Festival sponsored by the Service Employees International Union at Harriet Island Regional Park.

- Gary Emerling

cItems ran during the day at The Washington Times blog Trail Times (www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/trail-times), featuring dispatches from reporters and editors in Minnesota.

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