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Barack Obama skips another Lance Armstrong cancer forum

July 24, 2008 |  7:41 pm

If the views expressed by one woman attending tonight's town hall forum on cancer that Lance Armstrong and John McCain headlined in Columbus, Ohio, are at all typical, it may explain the noticable lack so far of any uptick in national polls for Barack Obama as he heads into the final leg of his much-ballyhooed overseas trip.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain speaks at the LIVESTRONG forum on cancer in Columbus Ohio that was hosted by famed cyclist Lance Armstrong The Times' Maeve Reston, covering the event, talked with Ann Marie Jones, a stay-at-home mom whose young son was diagnosed with leukemia in September. Jones, 40, said she had been leaning toward Obama “until he didn’t show up tonight.”

She added: “I feel like I understand what he’s doing over there, but I think he needed to be here tonight for this.”

Jones said she has become bothered by the length and scale of Obama’s travels.

“I think we have a lot of things going on with our children — many different things going on here in the United States that need our attention,” prime among them healthcare, she said.

Obama has not irrevocably lost Jones' vote. The Republican -- from Texas, no less -- said she remains undecided. She plans to make her decision after learning more about both candidates’ health plans and how they would aid those struggling with medical costs, particularly families affected by cancer.

McCain, in his opening remarks at the LIVESTRONG Summit held on the campus of The Ohio State University, noted that both presidential contenders had been invited to the gathering by Armstrong, the world-renowned cyclist and cancer survivor.

Said McCain: “You have billed this event as a presidential town hall, and I sincerely hope that the next president is here this evening.”

He then directed one of his characteristic jibes at Obama and the media covering his foreign travels.

“My opponent, of course, is traveling in Europe, and tomorrow his tour takes him to France. In a scene that Lance would recognize, a throng of adoring fans awaits Sen. Obama in Paris — and that's just the American press.”

Obama now has missed two LIVESTRONG forums that have had a campaign contest; he was not at one conducted last summer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that was attended by several of the candidates in the then-crowded Democratic race. Also absent was McCain, who at the time was not investing much political time or energy in Iowa.

Blogger Catherine Morgan provided a recap, complete with several videos, of that gathering.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press