McCain's Knife-Wielding Captor Leads Vietnam in Rooting for Him





Le Van Lua, the first North Vietnamese that Lieutenant Commander John McCain encountered in 1967, says he greeted the American aviator with the biggest kitchen knife he could find. He'd like to welcome McCain back as president of the United States.

He isn't alone. Former prisoner of war McCain has some unlikely supporters in Vietnam, a country he bombed 23 times. Like Le, many Vietnamese are cheering for the self-confessed ``air pirate,'' absolving McCain-the-bomber and embracing the senator who pushed to normalize diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1995.

``They love the man who looks to the future,'' said Nguyen Dai Phuong, an editor at Tien Phong, a Hanoi daily. ``They don't love the pilot who came to kill their family.''

McCain's role as a ``frontrunner'' in the normalization process has convinced Vietnam's ruling class that his White House would increase bilateral trade, which was about $11 billion last year.


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