August 5, 2008

McCain Visits Fermi 2 Amid Cheers, Protests

By Tina Lam, Detroit Free Press

Aug. 5--NEWPORT -- As supporters and opponents demonstrated outside the gates to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant, John McCain took a tour of the plant. Its owner, DTE Energy, plans to apply for a new reactor this fall.

McCain was accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican who represents St. Joseph, both strong backers of nuclear power.

"My state gets 40% of its power from nuclear energy," Graham said at Detroit Metro Airport shortly before McCain's blue and yellow Straight Talk Express plane arrived. "My message here today is that we should take our lead from the French. I never thought I'd say that."

France gets 80% of its energy from nuclear power and uses recycling techniques to cut down on waste, Graham said. He said McCain's hope is to revitalize the nuclear industry.

"I'm here to reinforce the idea," Graham said.

Graham said he, like McCain, believes global warming is a problem and that adding 45 nuclear reactors in the United States will help reduce dependence on foreign oil without adding to climate change.

McCain flew into Michigan on his private plane shortly after 1:30 p.m. and headed by motorcade to the Fermi plant.

"We've got to come up with some other energy answers," said Mike Bouchard, Oakland County sheriff, who met McCain on the tarmac after his plane arrived. "We've got to look at nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, everything we can."

Bouchard said people are angry about rising gas prices, and meanwhile, Congress has recessed for five weeks without providing any solutions.

Outside the plant, about 60 union members and others held signs saying they're pro-nuclear and pro-Obama. James Harrison of Port Huron, an official with Local 223 of the Utility Workers of America Union, which represents some 200 people at Fermi, said his members want a new nuclear reactor built at Fermi.

"We need the jobs," he said. "It will pump a lot of money into this economy."

But, Harrison said, many workers back Obama because they feel he has better economic policies.

Across the street, about a dozen pro-McCain women wearing pins and holding an American flag, held up signs of their own: "McCain for clean energy, good jobs," read one green sign.

The women were hoping McCain, who didn't stop to say hello on his way into the plant, might stop on his way out.

Joan Noel, 58, a nurse who lives in Arizona but grew up in Monroe, said, "I had to come out to see our next president."

Noel said she likes McCain's pro-life stand. The group of women standing nearby applauded that. Noel was hoping to take a photo of McCain zipping past in the motorcade to post on a wall at her workplace.

Barbara Stroupe, 68, is president of the Republican Women's Club of Monroe County and has been a Republican since Richard Nixon's second term, she said. A strong McCain backer, she noted that her candidate won the straw poll at the county fair recently, in a heavily Democratic county.

"A new reactor at Fermi will help not just the county, but the state," Stroupe said.

At the airport, Goldie Feinberg, 80, was one of the lucky few who got to greet McCain as he stopped off the plane. A former Democrat and ex-Hillary Clinton supporter, Feinberg has switched allegiances and now volunteers all day, four days a week for McCain.

"He's been a stand-up guy all along," she said.

One of the things she likes about McCain is his ability to work across the aisle in Congress, she said.

"If anyone can unify us, it's McCain," Feinberg said.

His character, integrity, honesty and service to his country all draw her to him, she said. "He's my man."


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