John McCain In Tyler Raising Funds - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/20/2007-Tyler

John McCain In Tyler Raising Funds

Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain left Tyler this afternoon with his struggling campaign, at least 80-thousand dollars richer.

State Senator Kevin Eltife hosted a private fundraiser for McCain at his home in Tyler.  On the way in to see the folks who paid between 500 and 23-hundred dollars to meet him, Senator McCain gave us a few moments to talk about the war, immigration, and his cash-strapped and somewhat wobbly campaign.

"We're going to be fine," says Senator McCain. "Mistakes are made in campaigns. We made them and we fixed them." 

And about 50 locals lined up to help put the struggling campaign- once so full of hope - back on track, starting with the host, who knows a thing or two about the need to raise funds.

Senator Kevin Eltife had never met McCain prior to today's luncheon at the Eltife home. But he said he's watched from afar and admired him for years. 

"I think the next President needs a lot of foreign policy experience," said Senator Eltife.  "I think we've got a mess on our hands in terms of the Iraq war and foreign policy. I think, of all the candidates, John McCain has the most experience. I don't agree with him on every issue." 

Most notably, Eltife is crossways with McCain's leadership on illegal immigration. Looked upon by many in his party as amnesty, it has cost McCain considerable support from Republicans.

"We failed to convince people that we were really, truly were going to enforce our broken borders," says McCain.  "If we're going to go back at this again, my lesson is we're going to have to convince people that enforcing the borders is our first priority and must be accomplished."

McCain accepts that lesson from the people on immigrationl; but unlike some Republicans in the U.S. Senate, this decorated war hero and political maverick is not about to budge in his stance on the war in Iraq or the recent U.S. troop surge there. 

"This strategy, the final piece of it was only put in place a few weeks ago. But we are seeing real success and real progress and I think it ought to be given a chance," says McCain.

 The attendees we talked to were a bit tepid in their political support.  No one was seen wearing "McCain for President" buttons, or sporting bumper stickers. But the excitement to meet the man was evident and real.

 "John McCain is an American hero," said Tyler Mayor, Joey Seeber.  "I think anytime you have the opportunity to meet someone like that and tell him how much we appreciate his sacrifice, I'm glad to do it."

Polls show McCain running third among the Republicans in Texas, behind actor, Fred Thompson, who hasn't even declared as a candidate yet and Rudy Guiliani. Supporters say McCain is doing very well in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire. Early wins there could catapult him back to the top of the pack nationwide.  

Joe Terrell, Reporting jterrell@kltv.com

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