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Brimley
The “Cocoon” star travelled with John McCain throughout New Hampshire on Friday.

“He can take on Chuck Norris two calls out of three,” McCain quipped to reporters at a campaign appearance in Peterborough, N.H. on Saturday. Brimley actually looks not too different than he looked in 1985, when he played an oldster in “Cocoon.”

Norris is campaigning throughout the state with Mike Huckabee, as a kind of ex-officio spokesman for his run. Other surrogates on the trail include Madeleine Stowe, who represented the John Edwards campaign at a Lifetime get-out-the-vote event in Manchester this morning. She plans several appearances with the candidate this weekend.

“The reason I’m here is because I think John McCain is a good, honest, patriotic American. He’s proven that with his actions,” Brimley said on Friday in Nashua.

But McCain’s biggest challenge is not coming from Huckabee or Norris, but Mitt Romney, with the two camps engaged in a bitter back-and-forth on the airwaves in New Hampshire and on the Web.

Unlike Norris, Brimley refused to get into the messier side of the campaign. Asked about some of Romney’s criticisms of McCain, he said, “I’m not concerned about any of this silliness.”

At his even today, McCain, like just about all the other candidates, pitched himself as a candidate of “change.” (Actually, it was in response to a reporters’ question as to whether he would be using the buzzword).

“I am responsible for the biggest change that has saved American lives,” said McCain, citing his criticisms of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which were followed by the Bush administration’s “surge” strategy in Iraq under Gen. David Petreaus.

Boosted by enthusiatic crowds at his events, McCain said that he thinks “we may have caught lighting in a bottle,” and he reflected where he was last summer, when his campaign was all but out of money.

“Actually, I was reminded of the words of Chairman Mao, ‘It’s always darkest before it’s totally black,'” McCain said.

His campaign has been engaged in what is becoming a bitter race with Romney. Last night, Romney said that some of McCain’s ads were the “most aggressive personal attacks on me I can recall.” “They remind me of what he did to George Bush in 2000.”

McCain said, “We have responded to some of the attack ads, but we are not going to get into a tit for tat.”

Here’s McCain’s web ad, “Leadership,” unveiled yesterday, that attacks Romney’s foreign policy credentials. And it’s followed by Romney’s web ad, “Twists,” that charges that McCain supported amnesty for illegal immigrants.