Protesters turn up heat on McCain

About 60 people gathered Wednesday morning outside UNLV to criticize presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq and concerns that a McCain presidency would follow the course charted by President Bush over the last eight years.

"He’s said that he will continue the policies of Bush," said Jerry Osburn, whose stepson is serving his third tour with the Army in Iraq. "Bush has been a complete failure. We are no better off, and in most cases we are worse off."

Cameron Asgarian, a recent University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduate, was one of several people hoisting "No war in Iran" signs. Asgarian said he worried that another Republican president would mean an expansion of military hostilities.

"We feel that’s the way it’s going to go," he said. "This country doesn’t need more war. We’re spending so much money on war."

The picketing was informal, with participants spread north on the sidewalk at Maryland Parkway and Harmon Avenue and intermittently chanting things like, "When I say, ‘Bush-McCain,’ you say, ‘Insane!’

"Bush-McCain!"

"Insane!"

Their signs, for the most part, were split evenly between Iraq war criticisms — "No more blood for oil," "Support our troops, bring them home" — and attempts to link McCain and Bush, such as "McSame on Energy" and "McSame on Yucca."

There was a steady stream of honks and thumbs-up from passing drivers as the protesters stood in the blazing sun.

"We just want a different administration in Washington," Asgarian said.

Scott Miller, a computer consultant, was carrying a sign that said "$85/barrel oil in 30 days — ask me how." He also wanted both McCain and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to take a few days off the campaign trail.

Miller was citing congressional testimony this week that tightening rules and closing loopholes in the oil speculation market could lead to cheaper oil within a month.

One of McCain’s points made Wednesday in Las Vegas was the need to push for tighter regulation of speculation in the oil market. Obama has offered steps to close loopholes that allow speculators to drive up oil prices.

Oil was trading for about $134 a barrel Wednesday afternoon. Industry experts testifying before a congressional subcommittee Monday said the regulatory changes could drop oil prices to $65 to $70 a barrel, although that view is not shared by everyone.

"Five days off the campaign trail" would give them time to pass legislation, Miller opined. "They’re adjourning for the July 4 holiday anyway.

"If these people are wrong, in 30 days we’ll know it. … But imagine, if in those 30 days, during the summer driving season, we could take a third off the price of oil.

"That’s my ax to grind today," he said.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or (702) 229-6435.

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