ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRJohn McCain isn't fancy. While his Democratic presidential rivals like a little flash and color, McCain is comfy in Levi's and a sweat shirt stamped with an old family photo. And forget nuevo cuisine. In fact, forget hired chefs. This is a guy with a family that likes to pick out chow and cook it on the deck. From Costco, no less. McCainiacs tell us that the GOP presidential candidate and wife Cindy regularly stop at a Phoenix Costco to load up en route to their Sedona, Ariz., retreat, Hidden Valley Ranch. McCain recently raved about Costco's baby back ribs, though he likes the consumer warehouse's chicken quarters and brats, too. And that's not all: He recently upgraded his outdoor cooking area with a new gas grill from the store.
Showing his Costco card is a wise move politically, too, pollster John Zogby tells us. Zogby, who can chart trends simply by determining where voters shop, says Costco's mainstream customers are must-wins in a fall victory. "The key for someone like McCain is to be able to connect with these value shoppers," says Zogby, adding that Target shoppers are similar "centrists." While McCain also has to recover the more conservative Wal-Mart shoppers peeved at President Bush, Zogby says he more than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can authentically connect with Costco-ers to "display an understanding of the difficult times they are experiencing."