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Author Topic: John McCain and Amtrak
amtraksupporter
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I started out to do a quick search on google with "john mccain" amtrak.

I found 51,000 hits. He apparently has a lot more history with Amtrak than I thought. So much for a quick search.

One item I found in a pbs newshour transcript dated 11/12/97, stood out:

SEN. JOHN McCAIN, (R) Arizona: This has got to be called the great train robbery. It used to be in the Old West that the outlaws took money from the trains. Now the trains are taking money from the taxpayers--$2.3 billion. The James boys, Jesse and Frank, did not have the imagination that this--that this incredible scheme does. It's not to be believed.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/transportation/july-dec97/amtrak_11-12.html


Some people think Amtrak will go on under a McCain administration like it has under a Bush one.

But look at this exchange at the St. Petersburg debate:

MR. COOPER: Senator McCain, have the Republicans forgotten how to control spending?

SEN. MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. When we came to power in 1994 -- (applause) -- the government -- changed government and government changed us. We let spending lurch completely out of control. We spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue. (Laughter.) We've presided over great expansion of government; the latest being in the SCHIP, which was going to be paid for supposedly with a dollar a pack increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes. So we're going to help children with their health insurance and hope that they continue to smoke.

So I have a record of fighting against wasteful spending. I have a clear record of winning. I saved the taxpayers $2 billion on a bogus Air Force Boeing tanker deal where people went to jail.

I led in the Abramoff hearings in the obscure Indian Affairs Committee, for which people are still testifying and going to jail.

As president of the United States, I'd take an old veto pen that Ronald Reagan gave me and I'd veto every single pork-barrel bill that comes across my desk. I'd make the authors famous. And we've got to stop it, and stop it now. And I can do it, and I've done it, and I've got the record. (Applause.) And I know how Washington works, and I look forward to it.


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/us/politics/28debate-transcript.html?pagewanted=print

It worries me that McCain does know how Washington works and that Amtrak supporters do not have the votes to overcome a veto.

I think it is time to raise the warning flags.

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Mr. Toy
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Don't panic yet. I've watched McCain in his Commerce Committee hearings, and while he is no fan of Amtrak, I don't get the impression that he is anti-passenger rail. I think he makes a distinction between the two. I also consider him to be much more open minded than the current administration and I don't think he would kill Amtrak without having something credible to replace it. I say this cautiously, because I can't say for sure, but McCain does not seem to be as driven by ideology as many Amtrak opponents are. He understands the real world requires compromise. Personally, I wouldn't vote for him, but we'd all be a lot better off if he had been in the White House these last seven years.
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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Toy:
Don't panic yet. I've watched McCain in his Commerce Committee hearings, and while he is no fan of Amtrak, I don't get the impression that he is anti-passenger rail. I think he makes a distinction between the two. I also consider him to be much more open minded than the current administration and I don't think he would kill Amtrak without having something credible to replace it. I say this cautiously, because I can't say for sure, but McCain does not seem to be as driven by ideology as many Amtrak opponents are. He understands the real world requires compromise. Personally, I wouldn't vote for him, but we'd all be a lot better off if he had been in the White House these last seven years.

I'm not sure that I would have voted for John McCain back in Y2K BUT I would have liked to have had the opportunity to seriously consider voting for John McCain.

I was not able to do that (seriously consider voting for) with the candidate we did have from the right and I....well....I just feel that the Republican Party failed to put forward their best candidate eight years ago and that's a real shame.

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Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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4021North
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In my view, anyone who regards Amtrak as not worthy of public spending is guided by the wrong ideology. It is my impression that people like Senator McCain are convinced that Amtrak -- as it is -- serves no useful purpose, and wouldn't even conceive of expanding it. I couldn't disagree more.

I don't think we need to re-invent Amtrak, as if the structure that exists now is somehow flawed or inefficient. The nationwide network of passenger trains run by the government has worked for the past thirty years, albeit severely limited in scope. These proposals to privatize Amtrak remind me of other schemes to reorganize economics, where people had way too high of expectations. I don't think Amtrak's basic problem is organization or being public versus private. People like to think that way in hopes that a dramatic change can be brought about with a little reorganization. Change will be brought about by expanding Amtrak.

The one underlying issue, that unites all the others, is the nationwide lack of support for passenger rail. The state of Amtrak is a mere consequence of that. I hope that whomever comes to office will take this to heart and make decisions from the point of view of increasing support for passenger rail. They will listen to the average citizen who says that public transportation (including Amtrak) is inadequate, and set about trying to fix the problem. They will encourage people to use Amtrak by making it more attractive.

We need a system of transportation that is reasonably balanced between the different modes, that champions the interests of Amtrak and others. That is, better public transportation, including passenger trains. So far it doesn't look like any of the candidates are planning to make that a priority. When they do, I will be glad to support them.

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sojourner
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I agree McCain isn't driven by ideology, but that's because of the very peculiar way conservative ideology is defined nowadays, with such a broad swathe of issues. When it comes to FISCAL conservatism, however, I think McCain IS driven by ideology, and he is gonna prove his conservative cohones (sp?) by being as fiscally conservative on nonmilitary nonhomeland security spending as he can be. Now, I'm generally fiscally conservative myself, but I think public transportation is a very good investment that benefits the economy of the areas affected. McCain seems to be one of those who see only the expenditure and not the benefits, one of those who think government support of passenger railroads is "socialism." I think he will be very very bad for Amtrak, esp since so many of the Republican friends of Amtrak (e.g., Domenici, Trent Lott, Sanctorum, and in 2010 Kay Bailey Hutchinson) who might influence him otherwise are or soon will be gone.

I'm not sure Hillary would be so great for Amtrak either, possibly one of those of thinks it's only important in the Northeast. Still, she would be better than McCain.

Obama I'm assuming would be the best, since he is from Illinois. But he is really an unknown factor, isn't he?

Anyway, I'm afraid I also think of the three, McCain is likeliest to win.

Of course, Congress will remain Democratic, so I suppose they might be able to put a stop to some of his plans, but if he makes Congress afraid to look obstructionist and spendthrift, he still might get a lot of what he wants done in the first year. Depends on the kind of "honeymoon" he has.

So I'm taking as many trips as I can afford this year!

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irishchieftain
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quote:
Originally posted by amtraksupporter:

I started out to do a quick search on google with "john mccain" amtrak.

I found 51,000 hits. He apparently has a lot more history with Amtrak than I thought. So much for a quick search.

One item I found in a PBS newshour transcript dated 11/12/97, stood out:
quote:
SEN. JOHN McCAIN, (R) Arizona: This has got to be called the great train robbery. It used to be in the Old West that the outlaws took money from the trains. Now the trains are taking money from the taxpayers--$2.3 billion. The James boys, Jesse and Frank, did not have the imagination that this--that this incredible scheme does. It's not to be believed.
PBS Newshour: "Losing Steam" – John McCain from 1997

Some people think Amtrak will go on under a McCain administration like it has under a Bush one.

But look at this exchange at the St. Petersburg debate:
quote:
MR. COOPER: Senator McCain, have the Republicans forgotten how to control spending?

SEN. MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. When we came to power in 1994 — (applause) — the government — changed government and government changed us. We let spending lurch completely out of control. We spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue. (Laughter.) We've presided over great expansion of government; the latest being in the SCHIP, which was going to be paid for supposedly with a dollar a pack increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes. So we're going to help children with their health insurance and hope that they continue to smoke.

So I have a record of fighting against wasteful spending. I have a clear record of winning. I saved the taxpayers $2 billion on a bogus Air Force Boeing tanker deal where people went to jail.

I led in the Abramoff hearings in the obscure Indian Affairs Committee, for which people are still testifying and going to jail.

As president of the United States, I'd take an old veto pen that Ronald Reagan gave me and I'd veto every single pork-barrel bill that comes across my desk. I'd make the authors famous. And we've got to stop it, and stop it now. And I can do it, and I've done it, and I've got the record. (Applause.) And I know how Washington works, and I look forward to it.

New York Times

It worries me that McCain does know how Washington works and that Amtrak supporters do not have the votes to overcome a veto.

I think it is time to raise the warning flags.

Frankly, the only way Congress wouldn't be able to override a veto is if about half the Amtrak supporters in both parties went away. That would require quite the sea change.

Not to mention, where's McCain's stance on highway spending? Lots of waste there. Never mind the waste in the bills he's proposed against Amtrak. This bit of info from another forum is interesting:
quote:
Posted by RVRR 15 over on Railroad.net

Anybody recall the Rail Passenger Service Improvement Act (S-1958) that McCain introduced in 2002, with the intent of "privatizing" Amtrak? Its highlights were:
  • Creation of an Office of Rail Passenger Development and Franchising within the FRA, whose purpose would be to franchise out passenger service (to whom is not indicated) and execute capital improvements to the NEC.
  • Requiring Amtrak to establish three subsidiaries:
    • Amtrak Operations -- this subsidiary's responsibility would be to operate all routes until franchised out by the SecTrans, with the option of competing for routes themselves.
    • Amtrak Maintenance -- what it says on the label; except all rolling stock would be accessible to franchisees as well as Amtrak Operations.
    • Intercity Rail Reservations -- which is interesting, since one could postulate that this might have been an alternative to creating Amtrak to begin with. Franchisees would have access to this system also.
    All of these would be for-profit subsidiaries.
  • The creation of the Amtrak Reform Board, whose role would be to guarantee franchisees other than Amtrak Operations equal access to equipment, reservations, assets and other service that Amtrak Operations and Intercity Rail Reservations handle (as noted).
  • The creation of the Amtrak Control Board, whose role would be, as it is stated, "to assist Amtrak in improving its financial and operational condition to enable them to become privatized in no longer than four years." (ibid.)
  • Amtrak would have to eliminate all routes where revenue did not exceed costs by 8/1/03. Finally, the bill "authorizes $150 million for Amtrak for system-wide security upgrades, and $998 million for use in completing New York tunnel life safety projects and rehabilitating tunnels in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Md. Amtrak would also receive $100 million in operating subsidies in fiscal year 2003, with subsidies increasing by $100 million each year through 2006, when Amtrak would be dissolved." (ibid.)
Looks like more bureaucracy to do a lot less.

I surmise that McCain as President would not be able to get bills like this very far either.

Funny how an anti-waste guy wants to institute all this waste and bureaucracy, right? I wonder if he's changed his stance after looking at how the British privatization model collapsed and had to be propped up by Network Rail.

Incidentally, the title of this post seems to attract "Vote John McCain" banner ads!

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Jerome Nicholson
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Congress won't look like it does now; some of Amtrak's best friends, like Trent Lott, are retiring after this session. We don't know how the newcomers are going to feel about Amtrak or any passenger rail. as we've seen, party affiliation isn't a sure sign of rail awareness. McCain may very well succeed where Bush and Reagan failed.
I agree though, that McCain would have been a better President in 2000 than who we ended up with.

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irishchieftain
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Well, oil prices certainly have nowhere to go but up. Unless we get mass liquefaction of our coal reserves to create gasoline and diesel fuel (which we don't appear to have the capacity for), this is an issue that will have to be tackled by the next president no matter whom. Besides (IMHO), using coal for electrified passenger rail would be the better use, and I do not see how McCain does not recognize that.

I do find it surprising that McCain would continue to spout intentions to further deprecate passenger rail as he has done without citing the massive waste in the other modes of transportation (i.e. the stance is hypocritical). Also, despite his hawkish foreign-policy rhetoric, he seems to have forgotten 9/11 and when all the airlines were grounded—and the role that "wasteful" Amtrak was able to fulfil, despite how limited that role was due to the small size of its national network. Out of any thing, McCain ought to be a champion of Amtrak expansion.

Further, McCain is very much pro-outsourcing, a position that is so at odds with national security that it further weakens his hawkish verbage and props up a "paper tiger" made of tissue paper. In light of this position, since Deutsche Bahn has had a penchant of late of buying railroads in other countries (most notably EWS in Britain), McCain as POTUS just might end up selling Amtrak to DB, and we'd end up with AEM-7s in "Verkehrsrot" and Acela Expresses in ICE colors...! [Mad]

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Henry Kisor
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It is amusing that the advertising "bot" on TrainWeb displays McCain campaign messages in threads about him. Look at both the top and the bottom of this window . . .
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Mr. Toy
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I see ads for both McCain and Huckabee.

If anyone is interested here is Huck's position on transportation. The short version is "more highways." He seems to think that spending money on roads would do more for economic stimulus than handing out checks. He's probably right about that, as far as it goes.

On rail he only says "We must link land use and transportation planning. It is folly, for example, to provide rail service to places that don't have the density to make it work."

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irishchieftain
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Ah, the "density" buzzword again. Did you know that France's average population density is about the same as Ohio's, but France builds TGV networks while Ohio barely has any medium-speed Amtrak service nowadays?

I wonder if Huckabee would shut down the X2000 in Sweden because of all the places it goes that have very low "densities" (some end points with a mere 14,000 inhabitants). Meanwhile, airports and highways in such low-density areas are AOK, e.g. Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania has a population density of 465 people per square mile, which seems to qualify it for an "international airport" in Avoca* (7501-foot runway as 4/22 and 4300-foot runway as 10/28), as well as four interstate highways (I-81, I-84, I-380, I-476), but no passenger rail service. So much for setting goal posts, eh?

* (Clarification: Avoca is in Luzerne County, but the official name of AVP is "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport", strongly indicating service for the immediately-adjoining Lackawanna County, Scranton's county.)

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amtraxmaniac
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Analizing the political landscape of the election:
Obama is more than a viable candidate. With the recent sweep of Virginia, DC, and Maryland, he has Clinton against the ropes. Some of America's most reputable experts show that Hillary Clinton would have to not just win but sweep the remaining primaries CONVINCINGLY (60 percent or more per state) to overcome Obama's delegate lead. He very well might be the one meeting McCain in the General Election. Not just that, recent poles show Obama would be more competitive against McCain in the general election than Clinton. Some estimates speculate that Obama would beat McCain 49 percent to 37 percent...with Obama winning the big Amtrak states (California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, and the Northeast States)

I read in a previous thread (anyone remember or recall?) that Obama has made referrence to cross country high speed rail as part of his transportation plan. He is also from an Amtrak state THAT IS LONG DISTANCE TRAIN HEAVY.

In terms of McCain's hypocrisy, it speaks for itself. Rail travel is the most fiscally conservative yet environmentally friendly transportation plan on the table. It costs a fraction (even when not neglected) of the cost of exanding highways and airports. It is less polluting and fuel efficient. It really is a plan that fiscal conservatives AND environmentalists could both agree on. It make NO sense for fiscal conservatives to attack Amtrak or any other rail plan. It requires a fraction of investment in infrastructure as building more highways or airports. But $ (special interests) talks and B.S walks (up the steps of the Capitol).

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George Harris
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Normally I dodge politics here, but since this is essentially a political thread I won't. I will admit that Obama has the ability to sound good. Unfortunately I don't see any substance behind the sound. And, what I do see I don't like. To me his views on security of this country are somewhere between naive and stupid. In that area he scares me to death.

Of all the Republican candidates past and present, McCain is the one I like least. In fact I have no idea whether any of his stands other than an apparent real one on security, excluding border security, are anything other than what he thinks it will take to win votes. But still if it is McCain or Obama, it will be McCain.

Having been around a while, I tend to be much less impressed with politicians that sound good.

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train lady
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Mr. Harris, now you see why I keep saying I think I shall vote for Hary Truman. I can't undestand how and why the American voting public is so stupid. Most of them never seem to know about the issues. And most of the candidates seem to realize this and therefore never really state what they will do . I am certainly not the most brilliant person but I do try to delve into what the candidates are saying rather than how they look or sound. The fact that many of the politicians are so against passenger rail shows, in my mind, that they are also plain stupid.
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Henry Kisor
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Obama would beat McCain 49 percent to 37 percent in the general election? Where would the other 14 per cent of the votes go?

I'm going to vote for Pogo. Maybe he'll get that 14 per cent.

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train lady
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Doyou think he will have racketty coon chile as his VP? I ask because I have a feeling that Bess will not let Harry run again
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TruckTrains
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I think the other 14% is to other canidates..

--------------------
Train Horns&
Air Horns

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amtraksupporter
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Train lady said:

quote:
I can't understand how and why the American voting public is so stupid. Most of them never seem to know about the issues. And most of the candidates seem to realize [that.]
Here is a link to one person's recent attempt to answer that question: "Democracy is a beautiful thing, except that part about letting just any old jerk vote."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19272.htm

Interestingly it begins with a quote from a railroader: "The people can have anything they want. The trouble is, they do not want anything. At least they vote that way on election day."
Eugene Debs, fireman, clerk, union leader, and Socialist candidate for President.

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4021North
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Nice article, though I disagree with the part about the leaders not being well-intentioned.
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Amtrak207
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Everyone keeps forgetting my suggestion, in my signature since 2005.
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palmland
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I agree with Mr. Harris' comments on Obama, however I am a little more positive on John McCain.

To quote an unlikely source, the democratic editor at Time magazine, Michael Kinsley, said in a recent editorial:
"the Republican party is on the verge of choosing a presidential candidate, John McCain, who is widely regarded everywhere (except within the Republican party itself) as honest, courageous, likeable, and intelligent".

I suspect Mr. McCain will wear better down the stretch than the glib Mr. Obama or somewhat shrill Mrs. Clinton.

While he would probably not be the best for Amtrak, hopefully that is not the most important criteria in our selecting a president.

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irishchieftain
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McCain doesn't have a fiscal policy. His statement of "hav(ing) Greenspan's book" ought to be highly troubling to all Americans. More borrowing, making the Bush tax cuts "permanent", and proposing more tax cuts on top? Utterly irresponsible, especially in matters of national security.

Also, he is not as big of a hawk as he claims to be in terms of foreign policy. He basically wants the European Union to get stronger in a military respect, and try to hide behind them. The EU is not to be trusted with the "world police" role that the USA has been playing for at least the past half-century, especially when it is governed by a non-democratic oligarchic body whose members are appointed (the EU Commission).

McCain is pro-outsourcing. Outsourcing, capital flight and the death of domestic manufacturing has been the chiefest cause of our ballooning debt and trade deficit, and has caused our money to leave the country and not come back. The negative impact on our military capabilities is staggering to consider. (We don't even make our own steel anymore, nor do we have anywhere near 100 percent domestic munitions production capability anymore.)

It's like there's no difference between McCain and whomever the Democratic opponent will be. Apart from the amount of lip-service offered to Amtrak, that is.

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train lady
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IMHO trying to figure out who is for what is an exercise in futility. Candidates say what they think the crowd b eing addressed wants to hear That may change from group to group if one really listens. McCain is trying to woo the far right so what he says to get elected may well not be what he finally does once in the white house.
When Obama says he is for tax relief for the middle clss..big Deal. So is everyone else but that is up to the House according to the constitution. One is for abortion,one is against. Well that is a religious question and according to the constitution has no place in our laws as there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. I guess I am trying to say in terms of Amtrak we just have to wait and see.
BTW I could have told you long ago that Obama would win in DC. The majority is black and people tend to vote for their own be it race, religion,ethnic background etc. Look at Nevada and Romney. Also in VA you do not have to be a registered anything. You can crossover for primaries so who knows how may republicans crossd ove to vote against Clinton.

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PullmanCo
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Let's see:

Amtrak serves Little Rock once a day between St Louis and Dallas (TX Eagle). (There are 3 other stops in AR daily).

Amtrak serves Memphis daily, but the dominant part of Memphis is on the TN side of the Mississippi.

Folks really expect Gov Huckabee to support Amtrak when they don't serve his State traffic needs?

As for Senator McCain... 1 x day across the old Santa Fe, and 3/week through Phoenix and Tucson? Do you really expect him to support something which doesn't even serve his major population area daily?

OBTW, what's in NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR? One of UP's principal shops. What's the name of that railroad in Phoenix? Yep, UP.

How much money is Amtrak's Political Action Committee putting in McCain and Huckabee's election coffers? I'll bet a steak dinner at the Golden Ox of $-0-.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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amtraxmaniac
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Obama would be better for Amtrak. Whether he is the more qualified to be Commander in Chief is not what we are discussing there.. Yes, I am young and idealistic and that's why I usually vote for the charismatic candidate. I don't think that makes a voter naive. Some of us are young enough not to be so hardened, but old enough to be tired of 'business as usual'. Some of us take offense to being labeled 'stupid' because we don't support business as usual polititians. An old political science instructor of mine taught us a clever saying: "Paranoia plagues the Blissfully Ignorant"...We've seen 8 years of the same old squat. I, for one, as a voter am willing to listen to someone with new ideas.
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train lady
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I am willing to listen to new ideas but I just haven't heard any yet. I guess I am old enough to be sceptical of charismatic candidates of what ever party who talk much and say little.
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TwinStarRocket
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I came across the following 2005 Obama quote on a website called illinoisissues:

'"The president, I think, is a little out of touch in terms of how important Amtrak is, particularly to communities in areas like downstate Illinois and rural communities where it is the primary way of getting back and forth to some of the major urban centers," U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said during a stop in Springfield this summer to hail passage of the federal transportation bill.'

I also just heard a business analyst on the radio make an interesting point. Only one of the current remaining presidential campaigns has avoided financial troubles, and high level staff changes due to unsatisfactory results. Obama has turned out to be the best "executive", whether it be his capability of running the show or his choices of people to run it for him.

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