If the presidential election had been held during Tuesday night's debate watching party at Miami's stunning Cesar Pelli-designed Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, McCain not only would've lost -- he'd have gotten trounced. Actually, trounced might be too soft a word for the hard fact that someone received no votes whatsoever.
Granted, it was an official Florida for Change event. But wouldn't even the most fervent Obama supporters have given McCain the benefit of some doubt?
Actually, they wouldn't. And they won't. Oh they doubt just about everything the so-called Gentleman from Arizona says, does or makes believe he stands for, but I'd hardly say it was to his benefit. No, the only thing last night's packed house gave McCain were groans -- and a nice hiss when he called derisively referred to Obama as "that one."
If the glazed looks that shrouded the crowd's eyes every time McCain spoke were any indication, you might say they also gave the man their yawns, but from the minute Ol' Mr. Mean Mouth told Senator Obama that it was "good to be with you at a town hall meeting" to the point where he said he knew "what it's like in dark times," the groans had it -- in a landslide.
They groaned when McCain mentioned suspending his campaign, when he asked if we heard the "size of the fine," when he spoke of Reagan (his "hero"), cited Teddy Roosevelt (his "hero"), and cried about follow-ups.
"If we're going to have follow-ups, then I will want follow-ups, as well," sobbed the senator, coming off like the oldest living baby on the planet.
But the most groans came when McCain injected a smarmy "my friend" into his responses. And I say most only because it happened so often. Over and over, the least cordial man in politics tried to insist that he was a friend; and again and again a roomful of genuinely friendly folks groaned otherwise.
Then finally someone asked the question everybody had been thinking all along:
"Does he even have any friends?"
Not in this crowd he didn't, unless friends are the kind of people who call each other "dumbass."
Obama, in contrast, elicited nothing but cheers and applause -- for "not having politicians point fingers," for his proposed "surpluses," when he smacked back with Rick Davis and S-CHIP, after he mentioned the Peace Corps and Darfur, and as he promised that "nobody will be excluded [from healthcare] for pre-existing conditions."
But by far the heartiest cheers and the most resounding applause came when Obama wrapped up the debate by insisting "we're going to have to have the courage and the sacrifice, the nerve to move in a new direction."
Everybody rose, and everybody roared, for what must have been a full five minutes, stopping only so they could say how "presidential" Obama appeared, and how fully he out-classed his opponent. After all, this was the reason everyone had come.
So no, McCain didn't pick up any votes last night in Miami, not in this place anyway; then again, he never was even in consideration.