McCain raises about $800,000 at area luncheon

Arizona senator raises big bucks during local visit, but did not say whether he’d pick local politico Chris Cox as a running mate.

March 25, 2008|By Michael Miller

NEWPORT BEACH — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain raised about $800,000 at a luncheon Tuesday afternoon at the Island Hotel, Assemblyman Van Tran said.

The Arizona senator, who is expected to be the Republican candidate this fall, spoke to a group of high-ranking Orange County Republicans at the hotel across the street from Fashion Island. The event was closed to the media.

“I have seen supporters from Mitt Romney, [Mike] Huckabee, [Fred] Thompson, all in attendance, maxing out for the senator,” said Tran, one of the area’s biggest McCain boosters. “When the senator was introduced, he got a standing ovation. When he finished his presentation, he got a standing ovation. So the conservative wing is coming together in support of Sen. John McCain, and that was apparent in Newport Beach this afternoon.”


It was a big haul for McCain, considering he raised nearly $11 million in February — a figure dwarfed by how much his Democratic opponents received. Barack Obama picked up $55 million and Hillary Clinton got nearly $35 million.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Orange County GOP, emceed the event, Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren introduced McCain, and Tran led the Pledge of Allegiance and related an anecdote about the senator’s experience as a prisoner of war, according to one observer at the luncheon. Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm also attended the luncheon.

Earlier in the day, McCain praised former Newport Beach Rep. Christopher Cox at a campaign appearance in Santa Ana, but deflected questions about choosing him as a running mate.

“Chris Cox is a very fine man, but we’re certainly not going to talk about our list of potential running mates,” McCain said of the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman.

McCain, who addressed a group of Latino business owners at a panel discussion in Santa Ana, also sidestepped similar questions about adding Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the ticket.

In recent weeks, some have speculated about Cox as a potential vice presidential candidate after syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that a number of members of Congress were pushing for McCain to choose him.

A number of prominent local Republicans, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and John Campbell, said afterward that they would gladly support Cox on the ticket.

McCain only took a couple of questions at the Island Hotel fundraiser, including one from a supporter who asked McCain about his short list for vice presidential candidates.

McCain, according to one observer, said he has just begun going over a “long list” of potential running mates and that the process of choosing one will take a few months. Another supporter asked McCain what he would do to solve the sub-prime mortgage market collapse.

Newport Beach philanthropists Glenn and Mindy Stearns, who were at the fundraiser, said they had supported the candidate for years.

“He’s made a lot of promises and kept them, so it’s our turn now to help get him in that Oval Office,” Mindy Stearns said.

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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