[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/bartender.jpg caption="Patricia Houston"]
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS
BATESVILLE, Mississippi (CNN)– Whatever the McCain campaign may have anticipated about national reaction to the suggestion that tomorrow night’s debate be postponed, people around here, who have been looking forward to the event for many months, are taking it rather personally.
"The debate should go on,” said Patricia Houston, a bartender at a local restaurant that was opened this year and that was counting on heavy business over the debate weekend. “Why does he have to be up in Washington to discuss the economy? Does he not know that we have Internet access down here in Mississippi? He can keep in touch from down here just fine.”
Houston said she is a strong political supporter of John McCain, and that “I love Sarah Palin." She is deeply disappointed that McCain, in her opinion, is treating her state as expendable.
“We’re used to it,” she said. “We grow up assuming that a lot of the country has a ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ view of us. They don’t think about us much, and when they do think about us, it’s not in the best of ways."
Whether or not her assessment is accurate, she thinks the McCain campaign’s request to delay the debate is just one more indignity directed at the citizens of Mississippi.
“They say they just want to cancel it for Friday night, but that they’ll come back," she said. “You know that, if they cancel it, they probably won’t come back."
She thinks that the people of Mississippi, regardless of their political affiliation, will regard the request to postpone the debate as an insult: “An insult to Mississippi, and an insult to the South,” she said. “It‘s not like it’s hard to get quick communication from here to Washington, D.C. It’s not 1867 down here; he can reach anyone he needs to.”
She stressed that she will almost certainly still vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. “But I don’t know about other people,” she said. “The South is supposed to be important to McCain. This doesn’t seem like it.”
She said that she understands the nation is in a financial crisis, “but it’s not like we’re not part of the United States. All the country wants the candidates to do is stand up and say, ‘This is what I think we should do about the economy.' Why can’t he stand up and say it here?”