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John McCain and "my friends": We count the times he said it

October 8, 2008 |  8:46 am

It is the most pronounced verbal tic in modern American politics -- John McCain's incessant use of the phrase "my friends."

For months, it has provided blog fodder. During the Republican National Convention, it spawned a truly inspired Slate offering from Paul Collins, who traced the phrase's use through the ages (one of his conclusions -- "as a crowd bludgeon in modern political speechmaking, 'my friends' can be laid at the feet of one man: William Jennings Bryan).

Occasionally, it's been reported that aides have advised McCain to curb his use of the line. But clearly, that's a losing battle -- in Tuesday's 90-minute town hall encounter with Barack Obama, the Republican uttered "my friends" or "my friend" (directed at a specific questioner) 24 times.

Just as clearly, given McCain's body language and his dismissive "that one" reference to Obama at one point, he doesn't include his Democratic rival in that circle of pals.

One word that wasn't heard once: "maverick," a noun that was ubiquitous in last week's debate between vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

For that matter, neither McCain nor Obama saw fit to drop the names of their running mates during Tuesday night's proceedings.

-- Don Frederick

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