McCain tells supporters to be respectful of Obama

Republican presidential nominee John McCain took questions from a sometimes-hostile crowd Friday in Lakeville, outlining his positions and more than once telling supporters to be respectful to opponent Barack Obama. âÄúThe status quo is not on the ballot this election,âÄù McCain told the crowd, gathered in a gymnasium at Lakeville South High School. âÄúWeâÄôre going to see change in Washington. The question is: whoâÄôs ready to lead?âÄù McCain took questions for about 45 minutes, touching on a plethora of topics ranging from the worsening economy to abortion and stem cell research. He more than once fielded recommendations from the crowd on how to address Obama in their upcoming debate next Wednesday. âÄúWe would like you remain a true American hero,âÄù an elderly veteran said during the Q&A. âÄúWe want you to fight.âÄù The crowd greeted the comments with applause, and McCain responded diplomatically. âÄúIf you want a fight, I will fight, but we will be respectful to Sen. Obama,âÄù he said. âÄúI don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity. I just mean to say you have to be respectful.âÄù ObamaâÄôs support is growing in the state, according to recent polls. He holds a 14 point lead over McCain in the latest Humphrey Institute poll, released last week. Tensions were high in the room, with frequent outbursts from the crowd whenever Obama was brought up. The crowd more than once booed McCain when he brought up his respect for his rival. âÄúI do not trust Obama,âÄù one woman said from the crowd. âÄúI have read about him. HeâÄôs an Arab.âÄù McCain quickly corrected her. âÄúNo, no no,âÄù he said. âÄúHeâÄôs a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.âÄù While many questions concerned Obama, there were lighter moments in the stop, with one question coming from a group of high-school girls who began singing âÄúDrill, Baby Drill.âÄù McCain also paid homage to Hall of Fame basketball player and University alumnus Kevin McHale , who was in attendance. âÄúI must have watched you 500 times,âÄù McCain said. âÄúYou have to watch me once, so thatâÄôs a fair exchange.âÄù A group of students from the UniversityâÄôs College Republicans were able to sit in the front row, even getting close enough to shake hands with McCain. âÄúItâÄôs great to have a town hall forum like this where the people of Minnesota are telling John McCain, âÄòhereâÄôs what I want you to talk about, these are the issues that are important to me,âÄôâÄù College Republicans chairman Abdul Magba-Kamara said. He said he thought some of the crowdâÄôs angst came from media coverage of the race. âÄúI know that McCain wants honor in his campaign, and I respect that thatâÄôs how he wants to run his campaign,âÄù he said. âÄúBut we know that the time is so close, itâÄôs time to start bringing up the truth.âÄù Travis Symoniak, a University of St. Thomas senior and head of Youth for McCain in Minnesota, said he thought the town hall meetings was a good way for voters to connect with McCain. âÄúIt really gives the voters a chance to see who he really is, what he stands for,âÄù he said.