Inside John McCain’s $685 Buffet

Given that it’s only 1:30 p.m. here in Arizona and the first polls don’t close for another two and half hours, there’s plenty of downtime at McCain HQ, which means it’s perfectly acceptable to have some lunch.

Luckily, the Republican National Committee was kind enough to lay out an impressive spread for the assembled media, but there’s a catch: You’ve gotta pay $685.

Actually, the money gets you a spot in the press filing center, which later will be humming with reporters on deadline, but at the moment it’s playing host to a rather extravagant buffet.

(The fee was even higher for Obama’s Illinois HQ — no word yet on the menu.)

In addition to the usual crudite (carrots, celery, etc.) there’s a wonderland of decidedly Southern fare, including crispy fried chicken, cornbread and chili. There are Angus beef burgers and Nathan’s hot dogs — and for the vegetarians, some floppy-looking seitan patties.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention the condiments. In this, the RNC truly excelled: not just saukeraut and diced onions, but three different types of mustard (spicy, “French style” and Dijon, which is technically also French), and — in a decidedly Obama-ian twist — sport peppers, which any good Chicagoan will tell you are mandatory for a proper Windy City dog.

Truly, McCain is the condiment candidate. And as I hoisted my third Nathan’s to my lips — slathered in mustard, overflowing with ‘kraut and chili — I couldn’t help but think that this is a great way to spend $685.