John McCain wins Vermont by large margin

03/05/08 7:04AM By Steve Zind

(Host) In declaring victory in Vermont, John McCain said he will return during the general election campaign.

McCain made his promise in a phone call to a small group of supporters last night.

VPR's Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) McCain's winning margin was big, but the victory party was small.

A trio of supporters turned out at a Barre watering hole to mark the occasion, made special by a call on speaker phone from the candidate himself, minutes after the polls closed and McCain was declared the winner.

(McCain) "And I want to thank all of you for your help and support in getting out the vote and now we have to gear up for November. I'll be back to Vermont and we'll contest it, we'll contest it, my friends. Thank you."

(supporter shouts) "We'll be ready. Vermont won't let you down."

(Zind) That's Carl Ettlinger of Underhill shouting his support for McCain. Ettlinger and the two other people at the victory party collected nearly all of the signatures to get McCain on the Vermont ballot, and they came up with the few hundred dollars necessary to run the primary campaign in Vermont.

They distributed old bumper stickers from McCain's presidential effort eight years ago and used signs scavenged from the New Hampshire primary in January.

Ettlinger admits it will take more than that for McCain to compete in Vermont's general election, but he thinks McCain's underdog status will appeal to the state's independent voters.

(Ettlinger) "He is the original come from behind kid, and it endears him to a lot of people who can't find any other excuse to appreciate the man. I appreciate him for what he is."

(Zind) Ettlinger says McCain's popularity with voters here goes back to the 2000 primary when the Arizona Senator defeated George W. Bush in the Vermont primary.

For VPR news, I'm Steve Zind.

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