[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/22/art.mccainhampshire.jpg caption="Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain listens to an audience member's question during a campaign stop in Rochester, N.H., Tuesday."]
CNN Political Correspondent
If you’re John McCain looking for some love while Barack Obama is overseas, you come to New Hampshire.
The line of Granite State voters waiting to get into McCain’s town hall at the Rochester Opera House snaked around the corner.
Most of them I spoke with were coming to see and hear the Arizona senator who has come to be a New Hampshire favorite son…and they greeted him with a rousing, lengthy standing ovation.
“It’s nice to see so many old friends,” he said as he tried to signal he was ready to talk.
“Coming back to New Hampshire is like coming home,” he said.
Voters here know full well the impact they have had on this election year. When McCain was politically dead during the GOP primaries, he came up to New Hampshire and slogged thru town hall after town hall – 101 in all - winning back support literally one voter at a time.
Now, New Hampshire, the only state in 2004 to flip from red to blue, is a statistical dead heat between McCain and Barack Obama.
McCain came right out and tried to use his history with New Hampshire voters to hit Obama on Iraq. He reminded them that when he was in his darkest political days, when everyone thought he was crazy to support the military surge in Iraq, he said that he would rather lose a campaign than a war.
Then he went in for the kill against Obama on the issue…saying that his rival still doesn’t admit the surge was a success.
In fact he spoke for about 5 minutes about how Obama doesn’t get it…and he wound it up by saying Obama would rather “lose a war than a political campaign.”
But through it all McCain does seem to be tempering his tone a bit, if not his policies. He said again today that of course he wants troops to come home and they will…but they must come home with success and honor.
That got him a standing ovation.
The good news for McCain is that the anti-war protesters outside didn’t hear him.
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