BY SHAW NEWS SERVICE
SUGAR GROVE - Republican front-runners for both the presidential and 14th Congressional District elections temporarily were upstaged Wednesday by a 12-year-old boy.
Michael Geheren, of Huntley, sat among the news media to ask Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., what his feelings were on gun control after the Feb. 14 shooting at Northern Illinois University that claimed the lives of six people, including the gunman, and injured 16 others.
McCain answered Geheren by expressing a need for mandatory jail sentencing for all gun-related offenses, while still supporting the right to bear arms.
"I have been a supporter of the Second Amendment and the Constitution throughout my entire career," he said.
McCain and Jim Oberweis addressed the media after arriving at Aurora Municipal Airport before attending a fundraising dinner at Rich Harvest Farms, where the senator announced his support of Oberweis' campaign for the 14th Congressional District.
"I'm proud to be here with Jim Oberweis to bring Republicans back to a majority in the House of Representatives," McCain said at the airport.
The senator often cited his conservative record as a legislator during the news conference, specifically when asked if his statements about staying the course in Iraq and his economic plans would cause voters to relate his ideas closely to George W. Bush's policies. Rather than distance himself from the president, he focused on the Democratic candidates.
"There are stark differences between myself and both Senator (Barack) Obama and Senator (Hillary) Clinton," he said. "Whether we want lower taxes or higher taxes ... less regulation or more ... Whether we will let the surge (in Iraq) succeed as it is, or set a date for withdrawal whereby al-Qaida can announce to the world it has defeated the United States of America."
Bill Foster - who has won the Democratic nomination for a March 8 special election for the 14th Congressional District and is poised to be the party's nominee for the November general election as well - criticized both McCain and Oberweis before they arrived at the airport for supporting a continued war effort.
McCain responded by saying that his statements about staying for years in Iraq are similar concepts to military bases stationed in Korea and Kuwait.
While McCain spoke of both Obama and Clinton during his remarks, he made a thinly-veiled reference suggesting he would be facing the former in November.
"There will be ample time to outline the stark differences between the most liberal Democrat in the United States Senate, according to the National Journal, and myself, who is a proud Republican conservative with a proud record of conservative voting and activities," he said. "So I look forward to that occasion."