Thursday, September 13, 2007

Power Line Blog's Paul Mirenoff's summary - "Feeling It" - of McCain conference call

Paul Mirenoff of Power Line Blog published a concise summary of Senator McCain's conference call on Wednesday, September 12 - here are excerpts...

John McCain was "feeling it" during his blogger phone conference today. And why not? The domestic political climate with respect to Iraq seems to have improved, and he's doing better in virtually every poll.

McCain began by calling on the Democrats to repudiate the aspersions cast by on the patriotism and integrity of General Petraeus. McCain reminded us that he repudiated what he considered attacks on the patriotism of Max Cleland and John Kerry. Later in the call, he declined an invitation to come down hard on the Democrats' conduct during the hearings this week. McCain said he wants to maintain a respectful relationship with the war critics in Congress, but added that they seem to have made up their minds.

I asked McCain whether, in light of Gen. Petraeus's concession that parts of Baghdad remain under the control of Shia militias and dominated by fear, he thought the recommended troop reduction was a pure military judgment, or at least in part the product of political calculation and concerns about manpower. McCain said Petraeus has committed to him that if he needs more troops he will ask for him. Thus, he hopes, and based on his trust of Petraeus believes, that the troop reduction recommendation is entirely "a considered military judgment." McCain added that there are reports (which he can neither confirm nor deny) of opposition to the surge at the Pentagon, but that (again) he hopes and trusts that this is not influencing Petraeus's recommendation.

Matt Lewis asked about the response of other Republican candidates, in particular Mitt Romney, to the surge. McCain said he doesn't pay much attention to what's coming from the other campaigns, and engaged Romney on the issue only because of his comment during the debate that the surge was "apparently" working. Lewis followed up by asking whether it's the responsibility of Republican candidates to help create confidence in the surge. McCain said he'd like to see other candidates be more supportive...

Betsy Newmark, passing along a question from one of her high school students, asked what McCain would do to rally support for U.S. involvement in Iraq if he becomes president. McCain said the next six months are the key. By January 2009 we'll either have shown enough success to sustain the effort or we'll have basically been forced out...

In response to a question from Phil Klein about what's likely to happen in Congress now that Petraeus and Crocker have testified, McCain noted that the authorization of the military budget is supposed to occur by October 1 but this is in jeopardy because the Dems can try to insert controversial provisions pertaining to Iraq. He also said that, while Harry Reid knows he can't get 60 votes for withdrawal, he's negotiating with certain Republicans like John Warner and Lamar Alexander to get a less straightforward resolution that will promote the same goal. McCain vowed to remain in Washington to fight these efforts notwithstanding the need to campaign and raise funds.

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