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POW cellmate helps Illinois get rallying for McCain
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff

Former Gov. Jim Thompson speaks to the media during the Illinois delegates breakfast at the Republican National Convention Tuesday.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

Rep. Mark Kirk speaks during the Illinois delegates breakfast at the Republican National Convention Tuesday.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

Col. Bud Day talks about his time with John McCain in the harsh North Vietnamese POW camp known as "Hanoi Hilton" during the Illinois delegates breakfast at the Republican National Convention Tuesday.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/2/2008 12:40 PM | Updated: 9/2/2008 7:54 PM

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MINNEAPOLIS - John McCain's POW cell mate wowed Illinois Republicans Tuesday with detailed stories of the presidential nominee's injuries and action in Vietnam.

"When he came to me he was in a monstrous body cast that came down over his shoulders and down to his hips," said retired Air Force Col. Bud Day, who befriended McCain at the POW prison. "His arm was sticking out like a stick out of snowman. His left shoulder was fractured and it was out of the socket. His right knee was fractured and he had been bayoneted in the left leg."

Day, who regularly campaigns for McCain, went on to tell how McCain stood by his fellow prisoners even when he had a chance to leave early.

"When there is a choice to be made, John McCain will do the right thing," Day said to a round of applause from the Illinois delegation.

Day was one in a series of top Republican speakers who rallied the Illinois GOP during the second day of the convention.

Yet at the same time, top state Republicans conceded they have a real uphill battle to put Barack Obama's home state in the McCain column.

Shortly after Day spoke, former Republican Gov. Jim Thompson told reporters he expected the party base to instead fan out to more competitive Midwestern states to help swing the election to McCain.

"Even though Illinois is kind of locked for Obama at this point - although things can change - Illinois Republicans will still do their share," said Thompson.

The second day of the Republican convention took a markedly different approach from Monday's truncated affair, which included an unofficial ban on political talk as hurricane Gustav ripped the southern coast.