The Last McCain Campaign Rally

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Election ’08 Trivia: What were the last three words spoken by John McCain at a political rally in his campaign for president? Answer: “I love it.”

It was an ad-lib, at the end of his standard stump, the one where he says he is an American and will stand up to fight, the one where he talks up Sarah Palin and calls his senate colleague “Joe the Biden,” the one where he says Barack Obama is untested, unlike him. “I love it,” he said, as the music kicked in. Then he flashed a thumbs up. Waved to the crowd. And McCain was done. (Only a meeting with volunteers in New Mexico remains later this afternoon.)

Nostalgia infuses the McCain campaign in these final hours. Last night, in Prescott, Ariz., Cindy McCain seemed to choke up introducing her husband. The staff dismantled the teleprompter and McCain ran the rally without notes, walking the stage, like an after-midnight Town Hall without any questions. This morning, McCain and his wife posed on the Phoenix tarmac for a group picture with his traveling press and then with his own staff. “I knew it would come to this,” he joked, as he took his place to pose with the press.

At the final rally, in Grand Junction, Colo., the crowd or around 1,000 cheered wildly. But, in a departure from most McCain rallies, there were no spontaneous “Drill Baby Drill” chants. McCain noticed the omission. “I think we ought to hear one more time,” McCain said. “Drill Baby Drill!” His supporters were happy to oblige.