McCain Keeps Quiet on Weekends

Since he effectively became the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain has pretty much stayed out of the public eye on weekends.

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Since he tied up the Republican nomination for president, Senator John McCain has pretty much stayed out of sight on weekends. This weekend, though, he's got a couple of things planned, and that almost meant NPR's own Scott Horsley would have to actually work on the first weekend since he's been covering the campaign. Lucky for him, he got a pass when David Welna agreed to stand in for him.

We'll hear from David in a minute. But first, Scott, you've just been hanging on the couch every weekend?

SCOTT HORSLEY: I feel kind of guilty now, Andrea. You've blown my cover.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: I felt sheepish all these weeks watching my colleagues who have been covering the Democrats and how hard they've had to work seven days a week. And it's not quite fair to say that John McCain hasn't worked on the weekends but he has not had a busy public schedule. He has been meeting with advisers and he has been having some downtime, some rest time here at his home in Arizona or his other home in Washington or his other home in Arizona and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Or his other home in San Diego.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: All joking aside though, Scott, there are serious questions about whether his campaign aides have been trying to pace him a little bit.

HORSLEY: I think they definitely have been trying to pace him. You know, John McCain often cites Ronald Reagan as a role model and Ronald Reagan certainly knew how to pace himself. He kept strict hours. And on the other hand, John McCain has argued that it was tough for him to get attention even during the week when he was going up against a very hotly contested Democratic primary.

And so there wasn't a lot of reason for him to squander more energy campaigning on the weekends when he had enough trouble getting headlines and ink and television time Monday through Friday.

SEABROOK: And let's just say what's this is really all about. This is really all about questions about whether John McCain's age is affecting his campaign.

HORSLEY: That's right. John McCain is 71 years old. If he were elected, he would be the oldest new president to take the oath of office. And the campaign definitely wants to convey the impression that he has the energy and the vigor to be up for all the responsibilities that would come with being president.

He is a vigorous campaigner but even during the week his schedule has not been nearly as crowded as Barack Obama's, for example. He typically does one public event during the day; then on the weekends, John McCain typically is more or less out of the spotlight.

SEABROOK: So, I understand, though, that the campaign is now saying that they will ramp up this summer.

HORSLEY: That's right. Earlier today he spoke at a gathering of Latino elected leaders in Washington. Tomorrow, he's scheduled to go and have a private meeting with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. At the same time, the McCain campaign has a lot of folks who have been doing this for a long time. And they recognize that this is very much a marathon.

And they basically have said that the status of the campaign is pretty much frozen from the Fourth of July until the conventions. So, they're in some ways keeping their powder dry for the fall.

SEABROOK: So, you've got a few weekends left, Scott, but get yourself geared up, huh?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: Off the couch when the fall comes.

SEABROOK: NPR's Scott Horsley. Thanks very much, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Andrea.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Coming up, McCain's cool reception at that meeting of Latino leaders.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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