Back in the days of yore, John McCain was the kind of guy that used to let "real" people into his town hall meetings and let them ask him actual questions and he would give the politician's equivalent of actual answers. And then he won the Republican party's nomination. So, now, if you're lucky, you'll see a couple of totally unscripted minutes on the tee-vee, if you care to watch, and that's about it. But, deep in the heart of a McCain townhall meeting, WiFi connection, rapier wit, foul mouth and laptop at the ready, is Ana Marie Cox. Our conversation/live blog starts after the jump...6:33 ET: Ana: I swear the music right now is the Star Wars theme. I mean, I'm not certain, but maybe. Megan: It was the theme to Dallas in St. Paul 6:35 ET Ana: "SAR-AH, SAR-AH" chant started Megan: OH GOD Ana: And now... I'm sure of this: "Heart of rock'n'roll is still beating" "the old boy may be barely breathing," indeed! Megan: hahaha Ana: Serious! Totally what's on right now. "Famous" media types here: Terry Moran, Dana Bash, and... that's kind of it. Megan: Dana Bash is so small in person I worry that just walking by her she'll break. I wish she would eat. 6:38 ET Ana: Okay here we go! I'm refusing to stand up. Music: "Fanfare for the Common Man" Megan: Ok, lame song choices. Typical GOP. Ana: Well I love Copeland, but it's... not that creative. Lots of "country first" signs 6:40 ET Megan: Naturally. Republicans are all about putting The Country first. Except when it comes to taxes. Ana: Lots of standing. USA USA USA I'm so used to only hearing that when code pink is in the house. btw, just for fun: this is about 100x as big as any town hall i attended in NH, AND PEOPLE ARE STILL STANDING "hello? the PRESS IS TRYING TO SEE." "It is like it didn't happen if WE CAN'T SEE IT." Megan: Well, Michigan does have a lot more people than New Hampshire, right? And I think the Republicans are deliberately trying to block the press. They hate the press, remember? 6:45 ET Ana: I do feel hated. OMG, I feel it coming... it's coming... DRILL BABY DRILL DRILL BABY DRILL Ii may start that chant if she doesn't because it reminds me of Wonkette! And, seriously, can't see a fucking thing. Anna wanted to know what the audience is like. If I had to use one word to describe them it would probably be: White. Megan: White like the stripes and stars in our flag white? Or just really pasty like me? Ana: Pasty. Do you think SHP uses some kind of fall in the back to get that volume she has? I ask as someone who desperately needs volume. 6:50 ET Megan: I'm going with hot rollers, some teasing and a lot of hairspray. I have had wedding hair once this year already, that's how I got it. But it's very time-consuming. Ana: Oh, Anna also asked about what people are wearing. I would say, "late Walmart,"maybe last fall. "From time to time, Sarah and I don't agree on every issue... what do you expect of two mavericks??" er... Megan: Um, does maverick now just mean people that disagree with one another? Can we finally retire the fucking word after this week? Please? Ana: Maverick=cranky? Or maybe "colic-y" USA USA USA btw, this might actually be a town hall. At least that's the sign in the back. Megan: Whoa, he's having a town hall in a town hall? 6:55 ET Ana: No no. It says "STRAIGHT TALK TOWN HALL" above the stage Megan: Oh, well, if it's just a town hall where ever he says it's a town hall, he better not knock on my fucking door. My place is not big enough for that shit. Ana: "Governor Palin and I will not raise anyone's taxes... the worst thing anyone can do is raise taxes" Except maybe get into a hugely expensive, unnecessary war! That might be worse! Megan: Torturing people is also pretty bad. I keep hearing that from somewhere. 7:00 ET Ana: "We're going to stop running Wall Street like a casino" he says. There goes my investment strategy! I wish I was kidding. Megan: No, shit, he really said that? Like Wall Street isn't already a crap shoot? Ana: I think that was his point. He wants it to be more like.. a bingo parlor? Maybe a Scrabble tournament. Megan: Boggle, definitely Boggle. Ana: PEGGY HILL WOULD RUN THE FED! Which I for one would welcome. Megan: I think Peggy Hill might be as competent as anyone. Ana: USA USA USA! Now... questions! From the audience! Megan: From the hand-selected audience of "real" people who happen to be white Republicans in Michigan. Ana: First question: "Have you read 'America Alone'?" and a bunch of stuff about how dangerous terrorists are. No actually this guy was kind of pissed. "I don't believe you" when you say you'll defeat the terrorists. The guy was in fact a white Michigander, presumably a Republican, but was not particularly friendly. UNLESS IT IS A TRICK. Megan: McCain: not torture-ific and bomb-Iran-y enough for the American heartland. 7:05 ET Ana: That was his slogan in 2000. Mark Halperin is shooting video RIGHT NOW. It may be on the PAGE as we type Megan: If he is live-streaming this, I am going to be sort of jealous. Ana: I don't think so. I'm not sure he knows how to use iphoto. Sarah just said, "Sometimes my running mate is too humble." Megan: Ok, I'm officially calling that the biggest lie of the night. Ana: Unless it's this: "In 2006, it was John McCain who was warning about Freddie and Fannie." Perhaps someone can Google that. Now he's saying that Social Security will go broke, which is not exactly the truth either. Megan: Oh, ok, well, now I am TOTALLY CONVINCED that I want a private account. Ana: As my father would insist. And yes, IMAGINE HOW GREAT YOUR PRIVATE ACCOUNT WOULD BE DOING NOW Megan: About as good as my 401k, one assumes. Maybe worse. 7:10 ET Ana: I'm sure this is totally genuine: "I'm a former life-long Democrat who campaigned for Hillary Clinton... and I'm also a PUMA... and the Rs have welcomed me with open arms." Audience member shouted, "We love you!" and she responded: "I love you too." Oh, but her question is good: "Can you give us some details, and your strategy and plans, for economic empowerment for women?" Megan: More training and education! Ana: Sarah Palin jumps in to mention "I am a product of Title IX" which is totally an appropriate answer if you mean LITERAL EMPOWERMENT, like, pumping iron and shit. Oooh but wait, "If we have to keep going down that road" — of legislation — "then that's where we'll be." She can't possibly mean that because McCain has voted against legislation like that... whatever. They're MAVERICKS! Megan: She'll say one thing and he'll do another and together they'll convince the American electorate that things are going so swimmingly! 7:15 ET Ana: It's like a romantic comedy that ends like "Saving Private Ryan." Megan: Completely off-topic, but that stupid modern-day bookending that Spielberg did there practically ruined that fucking movie for me. Ana: Well, a lot of things ruined that movie for me, including the basic premise. Megan: But then there were hot guys who said "fuck" a lot and I'm a simple person. Ana: "The Sopranos" must have gotten you very excited. Megan: If I'd had HBO, it probably would have, not that James Gandolfini is hot. Ana: Now he's saying that when people retire from gov't jobs, "we'll see if a computer can replace them." I hope he didn't expect applause in Michigan for that. Megan: Yay robots! Yeah mechanization! Dude, have his speechwriters been to Michigan before? Can they really not excise one line? 7:20 ET Ana: He's a MAVERICK, Megan. Sometimes he and his speechwriters disagree! Terry Moran is standing in the back shaking his head in what, I dare say, is disgust. Megan: And he lets them win! That's totally maverick-y. Ana: He is taking notes ON PAPER, btw, not a LOT of notes, but he's clearly old... or older school. Megan: That's very pre-automation of him. Ana: Other notes from the press filing center: Schmidt has grown a goatee. Megan: Is it a good one? Ana: Young doctor just asked about malpractice reform. McCain asks how much he owes and then says: "That's the first thing I want to do, is make sure young people like that don't graduate in debt for a quarter of a million dollars." Of course I'm sure he means he'll nationalize the secondary education system. Megan: Well, once we get done with the financial services system... Ana: Schmidt's goatee is obviously a little new. Mark Salter's sort of hot assistant is not here. McCain campaign a little short on hotties, but politics is like that in general Megan: Yes, tell me about it. 7:25 ET Ana: Yes, sorry. Ii am the lucky married woman. I just pay attention for aesthetics sake. Megan: More hotties need to go into politics. I was going to comment on your cute husband, but decided to refrain but if it's just for aesthetics sake, your husband is kinda cute. Ana: He is! btw, someone just asked "if you can be a mother and still be vice president" in a sarcastic way. Megan: Is sarcasm allowed in Michigan? I was told it's not. Ana: Her answer, among other platitudes: "This is the party that embraces the change and the progress that American women are creating and deserving" Megan: [brain explodes] That got a lot of applause, didn't it. 7:30 ET Ana: Sorry my brain was leaking out of my ears. I can't decide if I admire the volume Sarah has or if it makes her look like a cone head. (see, BRAIN EXPLODED) Megan: Wait, maybe the volume is because her brain already exploded. Maybe she didn't used to be all Republican-y and then she heard someone say stuff like this and her brain exploded! Maybe it's contagious! 7:35 ET Ana: RINO-virus, AS IT WERE! Sorry. I am going to continue to rely on the fact that my brain is still liquified Megan: Maybe all that sniffing at Republican events is just them trying to keep their brains in and not coke after all. Ana: Or allergies. "China is a growing power in the world" 20 year old college student asking about college aid. This might be interesting. "I'm not even able to receive the health care I need, not even to get better" "I'd like to know what you have in place... to actually make us better, healthier people." "I can't go to the doctor when I need to" "right now i have bronchitis" "and that is where I have to be before I seek care, and I have to be afraid because I might not be able to pay for it." Very moving Megan: Yes, well, McCain will give you a tax credit, little Cindy Lou Who, then pat you on the head and send you to bed. To die. Ana: And then he said "I don't believe government should be running health care" and everyone applauded. AND YES SHE WILL GET A TAX CREDIT "Ao you can get a health insurance policy that YOU CHOOSE" but that you still may not be able to afford. Sorry. Megan: Well, you know, the Magical Market will fix all of that. Like it did with our overabundance of solvent financial services companies. 7:40 ET Ana: And somehow he started talking about childhood obesity, which is a huge issue! (as it were) Megan: Wait, I thought Huckabee lost? Ana: But that girl with bronchitis is just going to be sick for awhile. Megan: Yeah, get the girl some Mucinex and a free Advair sample and call it a day. Ana: Maybe she just needs a humidifier Megan: Oooh, one of the Vicks Vap-o-rub ones! Ana: SHP just got a q about what experiences she has that make her ready to be VP. Megan: Shooting moose! Birthing kids! Ana: I assumed that would be met with silence so I stopped taking notes, but apparently she's the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. Megan: They went to war with Russia, right? 7:45 ET Ana: At the very least, they had a staring contest BECAUSE YOU KNOW THEY CAN SEE THEM. Okay now appears to be winding down. How can i wrap this up for you? Megan: I usually say something about how I'm going to get drunk and people think I'm kidding. Ana: Oh breaking: "NO MORE POLITICS AS USUAL." SARAH SAID SO Well I'm going to test out just how much the relationship between the McCain campaign and the press corps has changed because they used to get drunk with us a lot. I will be doing some investigative reporting and then let you know. Megan: Sweet, I look forward to it! Ana: (Though I am, to quote someone we know, "not Woodward and Bernstein.") Megan: Really, who is, or would want to be? Ana: Bernstein.