Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

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Is it just me, or does anyone else on the McCain “No Surrender” tour keep expecting McCain to also invoke “Grabthar’s Hammer“?

Reports from the Iowa leg of McCain’s pro-war pep rally are largely positive. The NYT’s Michael Cooper notes the simple fact that no one is asking the senator if he’s dropping out any time soon. A conservative blogger conference call prompted the observation that, “If the fire had fizzled this spring, it’s burning now.” He starts off a series of rallies and town halls in New Hampshire today — I’m tagging along — and here he faces voters who are less willing to let patriotic rhetoric buoy their support:

After the campaign imploded in the spring, with McCain’s coffers all but dry and his bloated operation scaled back, the remaining staffers had always hoped to “rebuild Fort New Hampshire,” the site of McCain’s upset triumph in the 2000 primaries. They just didn’t suspect the structure’s foundations would be something as shaky as the war. Until recently, the thinking was, as one adviser put it, “what immigration is for McCain in Iowa, the war is for him in New Hampshire.” Which is to say, it was killing him. And just as McCain would often bring up his immigration reform proposal in Iowa town halls whether someone asked about it or not, the candidate was equally irrepressible — even glib — about bringing up the war unprompted in New Hampshire. (“Thanks for the question, you little jerk,” McCain told a student a Concord high school student who asked about his age last week, “You’re drafted.”)

It’ll be interesting to get a look at what kind of reception he gets on the ground (though he’s packing the sked with VFW Halls, not known for rejecting patriotic messages), and I’ll keep you, ah, posted.