More than a dozen workers assembled metal bleachers and unpacked speakers and ceiling lights Monday inside the York Expo Center's Toyota Arena.

An American flag, about 12 feet high and 18 feet long, was hung from a beam and elevated in the air.

A blue mat emblazoned with "McCain" was sprawled in the center of an uncompleted ring of bleachers.

After a week of preparation, York County is ready to greet Sen. John McCain, Republican candidate for president.

The Arizona senator this morning will be joined by his wife, Cindy, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge in a town hall-style meeting at the arena.

"We're excited about having him here," said Michael Froehlich, general manager of the Expo Center.

It will be the first time since 2006 that McCain has visited the county.

During that appearance, McCain held only a 20-minute news conference at the Spring Garden Township home of U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, using the time to endorse the congressman, who was running for re-election.

For this visit, McCain is appealing to county residents in his electoral battle against Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

A. Carville "Peck" Foster, chairman of the Republican Party of York County, said almost all of the 1,500 tickets it was originally allotted were handed out by the start of the weekend.

The local GOP headquarters received 850 more tickets Saturday, he said, and it will distribute any leftover tickets today at the event.


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"It's just been a steady stream of people right now asking for them," he said.

He estimated that 2,200 tickets already have been given out in the county. The Republican parties of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon counties also distributed tickets for the event.

Foster said there might be about 6,000 people in all attending.

According to Expo Center officials, the capacity of the Toyota Arena is about 7,700, but not all of the building might be used.

As the event neared, McCain opponents made their voices heard.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, and York Mayor John Brenner, also a Democrat, on Monday spoke out against McCain in a news conference, saying he was out of touch with the people.

Meanwhile, several opponents of the Arizona senator stated their intention to gather at today's event.

Sari Stevens, state public affairs director for Planned Parenthood, said about a dozen workers and supporters of the organization planned to gather at the arena at 9 a.m.

McCain has a 25-year record of doing nothing to protect the reproductive health care of women, she said.

"He's a serious danger to women's health," Stevens said.

The anti-McCain showing was not sanctioned by the Democratic Party, said Abe Amoros, political and communications director for the state party.

Supporters of the Central Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation are also expected to gather at the Expo Center, near the Carlisle Avenue entrance.

Also in response to McCain's appearance, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans will hold a meeting at 1 p.m. today to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the Social Security Act.

And now that McCain has plans to stop by, will Obama do the same?

Sean Smith, state spokesman for Obama, said the Illinois senator has no plans yet to visit York.

That could change, however. "We'll see what develops as the campaign goes on," he said. "He'll be in Pennsylvania a lot. We'll try to get him down to York some time this fall."

epaik@ydr.com; 771-2001

IF YOU GO

Sen. John McCain will appear today in a town hall-style meeting at the Toyota Arena at the York Expo Center.

Once slated to open at 9:45 a.m., doors are now expected to open at 9 a.m.

Tickets are free, and any left available will be distributed at the event. It is open to all residents regardless of political party, said A. Carville "Peck" Foster, chairman of the county's Republican Party.

Cameras, cell phones and bags -- reasonably sized -- will be allowed inside, but placards and signs will not.

ACROSS THE AISLE

The state Democratic Party held a news conference Monday in response to McCain's planned visit.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, and York Mayor John Brenner, a Democrat, said McCain is out of touch with the American public. They said McCain, if elected president, would continue what they called ineffective economic policies from the Bush administration.

During the news conference at the IBEW Hall in York, the Democratic Party showcased a new video that accuses the Arizona senator of "killing jobs." The video is available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYLZ9NUMRNA.

Other McCain opponents plan to gather at 9 a.m. today at the Expo Center to make their voices heard.

Also in response to McCain's appearance, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans will hold a meeting at 1 p.m. celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the Social Security Act. The meeting will be at the UAW Local 1872 Hall, 3562 Gillespie Drive, in West Manchester Township.