Iraq GI Bracelet
The mother of a soldier who died in Iraq gave him the bracelet at a campaign stop last year. He now wears it every day.
Mac is Back!!" the crowd chanted on the night of John McCain's comeback victory on Jan. 8 in New Hampshire, a state whose 10 counties the Republican senator had crisscrossed dozens of times over 12 months for no fewer than 104 townhall meetings. As the presidential race now fans out across the country, PEOPLE asked McCain and other presidential road warriors what keeps them going through the dizzy blur of 18-hour days and a different hotel room every night.
For McCain, 71, motivation comes from a slender black metal bracelet that peeks out from under his right cuff. Etched onto it is the name and image of 22-year-old Army Spc. Matthew Stanley, who was killed in Iraq on Dec. 16, 2006.
"I asked if maybe he wouldn't mind wearing it, to keep my son's memory alive and everyone else's who have died and for the soldiers still over there," says Stanley's mother, Lynn Savage, 54, who met McCain at an August campaign forum in Wolfeboro, N.H., where she had raised her son. McCain is not a jewelry guy: He doesn't even wear a wristwatch. But he has worn the bracelet every day since then. "I'll do everything in my power to make sure Mrs. Savage's son's death was not in vain," he says.
Turn the page to learn what other candidates carry to keep their feet on the ground while living on the road.
They Don't Leave Home Without Their...
"She lives on her little BlackBerry," says husband Bill. "She's always reading and learning things on that." It's not just for business. Before the holidays, Hillary says, her portable e-mail device proved valuable on the home front: "Chelsea and I BlackBerried all through Christmas about our plans, what we're going to do, who was coming for Christmas Eve dinner and what the menu was going to be for Christmas Day."
His travel Bible
"Ever since I was 18, I've read a chapter of Proverbs every day," says the ex-governor of Arkansas. "I carry a real small Bible—the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I'm a nut for organization."
Built into his laptop, it allows him to keep an eye on daughters Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6. Says his wife, Michelle: "We talk at the end of the day—when the girls and I are in Chicago and Barack is out on the road. It's fun for the girls, and it's so important for Barack to see them and feel connected to home."
His homemade granola
A gallon-sized Ziploc bag of his wife Ann's homemade oats-and-almonds granola is always in the former Massachusetts governor's suitcase. "Every day for breakfast and if he needs a snack at night," says son Josh, 32. And sometimes he eats it from a Dora the Explorer bowl he carries to remind him of his 11 grandchildren.
"I love my iPod. I use it whenever I exercise," says the former North Carolina senator, who listens to Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. "When you spend all day around people, which I love, it's nice to have a little time to yourself. I use my iPod for that. Keeps me company."
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