U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., gets a high-five from Brandon Shay of Newport Township during Brownback’s visit to Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Brandon is being held by his father, Mike.Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE – Even though most polls show Democrat Barack Obama ahead in the race for president, local volunteers work the phones and knock on doors daily seeking support for Republican nominee John McCain.
Those efforts were noted by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback on Wednesday.
Brownback, R-Kansas, urged the volunteers to “keep digging in there. This is well worth the fight.”
Brownback, who serves as the national co-chairperson of Catholics for McCain-Palin, made stops throughout eastern Pennsylvania Wednesday. He visited Republican volunteer headquarters in Scranton, Bethlehem and Schuylkill Haven.
During his Wilkes-Barre visit he shook hands, posed for pictures, conducted a question-and-answer session and thanked those present for their efforts.
He made sure to mention the Philadelphia Phillies’ appearance in the World Series, referenced legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and even used a football analogy to motivate the volunteers.
“In the fourth quarter if you’re down a little bit you don’t say ‘Well OK, I guess it’s over. It was a nice game.’ No! That’s when you dig in and push harder.”
Mike Shay, a stay-at-home dad from Newport Township, volunteers at the Public Square location often. He was working the phones when Brownback interrupted to offer a handshake and moral support. Shay’s 2½-year-old son, Brandon, got a high-five from the senator.
“I’m a very enthusiastic supporter,” Shay said. “But to have him stop here just revs you up even more.”
Shay said he feels confident that McCain will pull out a victory in Pennsylvania and nationwide on Nov. 4. When told that almost every poll shows McCain trailing both statewide and nationally, he balked.
“I don’t look at the polls. The only one that matters is the one on Election Day,” Shay said.
Brownback, 52, said he knows what the polls show and what the national media reports, but urged volunteers to remind the public that polls don’t vote. He called a McCain victory in Pennsylvania “very doable.”
“Don’t let the national media talk you out of any passion or effort in the race ... Don’t let them say ‘Look, it’s over,’ ” Brownback said.
Six members of the Pennsylvania College Republicans’ King’s College chapter were on hand to meet Brownback and to help the McCain campaign any way they were needed.
Both John Yanik, a King’s student from Dallas, and Joseph Lapinski, a classmate from Mocanaqua, said the frequent area appearances by McCain and his wife, Cindy, McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and other McCain surrogates show the importance of this part of the state and Pennsylvania as a whole. They said they expect McCain to make a return visit to the region in the next two weeks and said thousands will be there when he does.