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Class in session on national race

Supporters made noise for the GOP presidential ticket when presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. John McCain visited Scranton.

Fred adams/the times leader

Wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a book resembling the Bible, George Moore waited in line outside the Scranton Cultural Center on Monday morning to see Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

“I’m a bitter person clinging to my guns and my Bible,” Moore said, referring to remarks made by Democrat Barack Obama, McCain’s opponent, during the primary campaign.

Moore, 55, of Susquehanna Depot, knew he would vote for McCain when he watched him speak on television at the Republican National Convention. He believes McCain’s military experience and adoption of children makes him “a true American hero.”

In April, Obama said some rural voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

While many of the 1,800 who turned out to see McCain in person made it clear who would be getting their vote on Nov. 4, Amanda Mendoza was there to teach a lesson.

The Meyers High School teacher brought five students -- Erik Carlson, Kaitlin Foley, Wayne McCormick, Brandon Ricko and Kathrynne Byrd -- from her political science class.

“I think it’s important they see these men and women come and speak regardless of how they feel,” Mendoza said. “It’s a lifetime opportunity for them.”

The Meyers group hoped to hear McCain speak about foreign policy, education and the economy. Carlson, who got tickets for his teacher and classmates, was also interested in what McCain had to say about the latest developments regarding the Treasury Department and the Wall Street bailout.

“I want to hear his opinion on the AIG bailout and what precedence that’s going to set for future government action,” Carlson said.

Mendoza hopes to take her students to see Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama if he comes to the area again.

Michelle and David Klaproth of West Pittston brought along their two children because they thought it would be educational for them. Michelle Klaproth said she planned to take the children back to school in the afternoon.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity to see a presidential candidate up close,” she said. “I mean, how often does this happen? I honestly figured they would get more out of this than any social studies class.”

David Klaproth, an employee at Schott North America Inc., Duryea, recently had the chance to listen to Obama speak at his work site. Although he is voting for McCain, Klaproth says he enjoyed hearing what Obama had to say.

Donning a button that read, “Read My Lipstick McCain Palin 2008,” Tena Botteon, of West Pittston, waited in line with a friend. The button, which Botteon purchased online, alluded to a comment Obama made about a pig wearing lipstick.

“I think a woman’s voice is important in this election,” Botteon said. “I think the reference he made was made at Sarah Palin and that’s not right.”

But not everybody who showed up at the center was a McCain supporter. Across the street, representatives of the Service Employee International Union, the Steelworkers Union and students protested for Obama.

“We want to get some information to the public standing in line,” said Nanticoke resident Renee Daniels, of the SEIU.

Lackawanna College students Stephanie Fox, 23, of Scranton, and Elizabeth Sams, 21, of Washington, D.C., joined the protest.

“It’s kind of been the same old stuff with the politicians and Bush,” Fox said. “It’s time for a change for the working-class people, which are the majority of the country.”

Mother and daughter Margaret Piatt, of Falls, and Lindsay Piatt, of Luzerne, posed for a photo in their McCain Palin 2008 shirts.

“I’m definitely voting for him,” Piatt said. “I only wish Palin was here with him.”

INSIDE

For more photos of McCain’s visit and more political stories, see Pages 5A, 7A, 8A

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