McCain shows his purple pride at GCU rally
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
Arizona Sen. John McCain likes visiting Grand Canyon University. He has been to the campus often in recent years and says that of all of the events in his re-election campaign, “the greatest event I’ve had so far is attending a Lopes game.”
So it was no surprise that McCain chose GCU to be the site of another campaign event Thursday afternoon. Only this time, instead of taking in a game, he was speaking to a packed, largely purple-shirted audience of about 500 students and staff on the fourth floor of the Student Union.
GCU President Brian Mueller noted that any event involving McCain or Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix sports and business icon who is so closely aligned with the University, is even more beneficial for students.
“Obviously, he’s a successful politician, but he’s just a good person,” said Mueller, who estimates that he has visited with McCain at least a dozen times. “I think that’s how you last in that business for that long. He’s very genuine. He’s authentic. He’s a family guy. He’s lived a very honorable life, obviously.
“When I think about our students and the role models we could put in front of them, having Mr. Colangelo in front of them a lot, having Mr. McCain in front of them, those are examples of how to live your life.”
The GCU students who work in McCain’s office as interns witness that example every day. Three of them were there Thursday, wearing their McCain T-shirts.
“He’s got a great personality,” said Isaac Steiner, a sophomore pursuing a degree in Government with an Emphasis on Legal Studies. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him not smiling. He definitely has a great spirit about him.”
Steiner started working for McCain after taking a photo with him at one of those GCU games the senator enjoys so much. As a member of the Havocs student cheering section, Steiner had purple paint all over his face — not exactly the type of thing that would impress most politicians.
But McCain is different. He loves the spirit he sees at GCU. So he suggested to Steiner that he might want to look into working for him, and Thursday Steiner and his fellow interns were sharing the front row with members of the University’s military community — another favorite McCain cause.
McCain got to campus shortly after 2 p.m. and met with University executives briefly at GCU Arena, where he was shown two recent videos that captured highlights of the past year at GCU.
He then was driven on a campus tour, which included a close-up view of about-to-be-opened GCU Stadium, before being taken up to the top of the Union.
There, he was greeted with the Thundering Heard Pep Band playing “Anchors Aweigh” (one of his favorites), and the crowd stood and applauded with the same fervor as the most avid McCain rally.
Many student leaders have returned to campus in anticipation for Welcome Week on Aug. 22-28 and the start of the academic year on Aug. 29, but Mueller still was impressed by their willingness to change their plans and roll out the welcome mat.
“Our students are amazing,” he said. “They’ll stop what they’re doing at the drop of a hat and they’ll get over here, and they’re energetic and they’re enthusiastic and they’re supportive. It’s just a blessing to be around the kinds of students that we have.”
It’s just one of the things McCain loves about the University.
“Congratulations for attending one of the premier universities in America, with great faculty, great facilities and great leadership,” he said when he greeted the throng. “Go, Lopes. I’m proud of you.”
● Here’s a slideshow from McCain’s visit.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].