Clintonville's own Mary Leavitt, known locally as The Flag Lady, was among five business owners last week who dined with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

Clintonville's own Mary Leavitt, known locally as The Flag Lady, was among five business owners last week who dined with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

While in Columbus to attend the Lance Armstrong Livestrong Summit on cancer at Ohio State University, McCain made a lunch pit stop at Schmidt's Sausage Haus in German Village. The stop occurred at the same time Democratic rival Barrack Obama was giving a heavily publicized address in Berlin, Germany.

Those McCain lunched with included Leavitt; Phil Derow of Ohio Transmission and Pump; Duane Hickerson of Relay Gear; Rick James of Rick James Chevrolet in Picqua; and Dan Young of Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs.

Reporters were not permitted to listen to the conversation.

Reached by phone Friday, Leavitt said the talk mostly centered around the impact of high fuel costs on small businesses owners.

Leavitt, who has 13 full-time employees at her store at 4567 N. High St., said high gas prices have damaged her business.

As a result of the rising fuel costs, her business' Web site has seen a spike in traffic, increasing by 216 percent, Leavitt said.

"When they call up and they order, they'll pay the shipping rather than pay for the gas," she said, adding the price for raw materials to make her flags have also gone up.

When asked why she was chosen, Leavitt said she believed it was because of her patriotism.

Along these lines, Leavitt is crossing her fingers that she may get to meet McCain again, only at a larger setting.

She said told McCain she wanted to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the Republican National Convention, and that McCain had a staffer take her information.

"Whether that means I am going to get to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, I hope it does," Leavitt said.

After lunch, McCain gave comments in front of Schmidt's Fudge Haus, located next to the sausage haus.

Asked if the location was chosen to contrast Obama's address in Berlin, McCain said: "I'd love to give a speech in Germany, a political speech, a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in, but I'd much prefer to do it as president of the United States, rather than as a candidate for the office of the presidency."

Geoff Schmidt, the restaurant's fifth-generation proprietor, said he was notified about the stop 20 minutes before the arrival of McCain's "Straight Talk Express" bus.

"About eight secret service agents showed up and said you are going to have a special guy for lunch," Schmidt said.

McCain had planned to spend part of the day at an oil platform off the shore of Louisiana to promote his plan for off-shore oil drilling, though Hurricane Dolly got in the way.

"The first thing he said was he wanted a creampuff to go," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said since the stop, he has dealt with numerous members of the press. As of Monday morning, a Google search shows more than 320 articles mentioning the stop.

"I think it was great for the village," Schmidt said.

When finished with comments, Tim Dick, owner of Schmidt's Fudge Haus, gave McCain a box of Tressel Truffles, named after OSU football coach Jim Tressel. The 15-piece box cost $9.95

Dick said a member of his campaign tried to buy the chocolate, but was stopped by McCain.

"John goes no, no, no, I'm going to take care of it," Dick said.

- Dispatch reporter Joe Hallett contributed to this story.

dcross@thisweeknews.com