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With two months to go before we chose the next leader of our nation, I have decided to share my own story about meeting one of the candidates.

I wish I had a story to share about Sen. Barack Obama, so I could give both men equal coverage in this column. Hopefully, I will run into him somewhere before Election Day and not make a fool of myself at the prospect of shaking the hand of someone who may be our next president.

I’ll leave it up to readers to form their own opinion about my reaction to meeting Sen. John McCain, and I encourage you to laugh at me and with me as I share this story.

McCain was the guest speaker two years ago at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Washington, D.C. He was not the household name he is today but still a very popular man to have in attendance that night.

I’m always eager to meet famous people. So I automatically stood up and headed for the senator when I saw him standing in a crowd of people, shaking hands.

My husband, Ron, lagged behind, trying to look cool and indifferent while his wife took off for a closer glimpse of this man rumored to be a likely candidate in the next presidential election.

The crowd swallowed me up, and I found myself in a line of couples eager to meet McCain and have their picture taken with him. My camera – and my husband – were still sitting at the table.

The closer I got to the front of the line, the more I felt "different" from the others, being without my partner along to pose with the senator.

So I decided to introduce myself and give a little promotional boost to "Homefront" in the process. Perhaps some day the senator would declare it to be his favorite newspaper column of all time and our dog, Glory, would be up to her ears in Milk Bones forever!

After many smiles and camera flashes, it was finally my turn. I handed my business card to McCain and said something like, "Hi. I’m Pam Zich, and I write a weekly column for Stars and Stripes."

Without a moment of hesitation, he smiled and said, "I read it every time I’m overseas."

Wow. I was surprised and speechless for one of the few times in my life.

Did the man who could be our next president actually read my tales about three wild boys, their fishing-obsessed daddy and Glory, the counter-surfing border collie?

When I went back to our table and told Ron about my encounter, he suggested perhaps the senator was better at politics than keeping up with the antics of our family.

"What? Do you think he would just say that?" I asked, considering the idea for the first time.

Later, when I related the story to friends and family, I included Ron’s opinion. Most, however, were less concerned about whether McCain is a devoted reader of "Homefront" and more amused at my brazen attempt to promote my column.

Despite what anyone thinks, I’m going to continue to believe that one of the most influential leaders in the world takes the time to see what kind of chaos my boys are causing whenever he happens to be overseas.

I wonder if he knows the newspaper is available online.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 17 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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