Beav’ raises money for McCain |

Beav’ raises money for McCain

Preston Utley/Vail DailyVail's Tom Kirk talks about his time spent in a Vietnam POW camp along side presidential nominee John McCain. Kirk spoke at a fundraiser for the Republican presidential candidate in Beaver Creek Tuesday night.

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Tom Kirk supports presidential candidate John McCain on the big issues: immigration, education, terrorism, the military.

But Kirk has other reasons ” attributes witnessed firsthand ” to support McCain: character, strength, will, determination and a desire to serve his country, Kirk says.

“I got to know John McCain in such depth, I can never explain it to you,” he told a gathering of Eagle County Republicans on Tuesday evening.

Vietnam War veteran Kirk, a Vail resident, was a prisoner of war for more than five years, and he spent four months of that time alongside McCain ” and dozens of other prisoners ” in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” Both Kirk’s and McCain’s planes were shot down, two days apart, over Vietnam.

“We would sit around in groups, and the groups would change, but John is a natural leader, and he’s naturally charming, and he would tell some of the best stories I’ve heard in my life,” he said. “He’s a visionary, and he’s a student of history. We would just sit and have discussions for hours and hours on end, about politics, military, war, families.”

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Even then, Kirk said, McCain knew he wanted to live a life of public service, and he urged Kirk to do so, too.

That path wasn’t for Kirk, but McCain has gone on to a long career in the Senate, with his sights set on higher office. More than 30 years after they met as prisoners, Kirk is putting his full weight behind McCain’s presidential bid. Kirk will vote for McCain as a delegate at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September.

“I’m going to work my heart out for him,” Kirk said.

Republicans were asked to open their wallets to support McCain at the fundraiser, which was at the Beaver Creek home of GOP state House candidate Ali Hasan. A handout was distributed explaining that the maximum “McCain Victory 2008″ contribution was $70,100 ” money that could go to various national party, state party and McCain campaign coffers.

Vail homeowner Jack Kemp, a former Congressman, presidential and vice-presidential candidate and NFL quarterback, also spoke in support of McCain.

McCain will be able to remove the U.S. from Iraq “with honor,” Kemp said, drawing a comparison to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s efforts to end the Korean War.

“John is the one statesman who can bring that type of experience to this war, support the surge, and the surge of diplomacy, to end this in a respectable and honorable way,” Kemp said

He also said McCain understands the economy, and will keep taxes low ” including capital gains and corporate taxes ” to grow the economy and create a “rising tide that raises all boats.”

“He understands the economy a heck of a lot better than Barack Obama,” Kemp said. “And Obama’s not John F. Kennedy. Barack Obama is George McGovern and Jimmy Carter redux.”

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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