Preparations are underway at the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian for a visit by presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain. The Republican from Arizona will be here Mar. 31.
The Riley Center's staff has been busy preparing for what will be a media event, since McCain is the presumptive GOP nominee. He has acquired more than enough delegates to win the party nomination.
According to McCain's campaign Web site, the Meridian stop is the only announced visit for Mississippi.
McCain's visit is not a Riley Center event. His campaign contacted Riley Center officials looking for a recognizable place in the state, and was impressed by the venue.
"We are thrilled that we were selected," said marketing director Penny Kemp. "It's a real honor not only for Mississippi, but for Meridian as well as for the MSU-Riley Center and the university."
Insurance agent Lamar McDonald is assisting with planning for the visit. McDonald said McCain indicated he's looking for some of his roots. He said with McCain's connection to NAS Meridian, there's a strong possibility he will be at the Blue Angels show this weekend.
"And I think the people really need to have an opportunity to to see him up close, to see him, to hear him, and shake his hand and see that he's real," said McDonald. "I think it's very important."
McCain is a former flight instructor at NAS Meridian and spent several months here in the early 1960s; McCain Field is named for his grandfather, the late Adm. John S. McCain.