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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

McCain will depart from election-night tradition

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK Republican John McCain is not going to make his election night remarks in the traditional style at a podium standing in front of a sea of campaign workers jammed into a hotel ballroom.

Oh, the throng of supporters will hold the usual election night party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix on the evening of Nov. 4.

But the Republican presidential nominee plans to address another group of supporters and a small group of reporters on the hotel lawn; his remarks will be simultaneously piped electronically to the party inside and other reporters in a media filing center, aides said.

Aides said Thursday that the arrangement was the result of space limitations and that McCain might drop by the election watch party at some other point.

Only a small press "pool" mostly those who have traveled regularly with the candidate on his campaign plane, plus a few local Arizona reporters and other guests will be physically present when McCain speaks.

Thomas Patterson, a government professor at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, called the arrangement "unusual" but said the campaign may simply be bowing to the reality that the candidate's remarks are geared toward the televised audience rather than those in the hall.

"Addressing your supporters election night is one of those traditions in politics, like where you choose to launch your campaign," Patterson said. "Why wouldn't you want the energy of the crowd? And if you're going to lose, you almost need it even more."

With just 12 days left in the presidential contest, most polls show the Arizona senator trailing Democrat Barack Obama nationally and in most battleground states, although a new AP-GfK poll showed the race tightening a bit in the last few days.

Obama, by contrast, plans to address a giant outdoor celebration election night in Chicago's Grant Park. The event is free and open to the public, but the campaign was charging media organizations a hefty fee for close-in spots on the camera risers and platforms and for cable and wireless Internet at those spots.

The Obama campaign was also charging news organizations $935 per person for a spot in its press filing center, as opposed to $695 per person at the McCain gathering. But as Obama spokesman Bill Burton pointed out, "Anyone credentialed for our filing center will also be able to watch the event live and in person, unlike the McCain event."



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