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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 Moveon.org 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.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Senator John McCain’s famous “Straight Talk Express” was gone, replaced by a bus
emblazoned with a sign that read “No Surrender.”
Mr. McCain and a group of veterans — including former prisoners of war who were held with him in Vietnam, and newly minted Iraq veterans — piled into the bus and drove across Iowa, stopping in V.F.W. posts and American Legion halls to argue that the current strategy in Iraq is working, and that Democrats and wavering Republicans who want to withdraw the troops now are making a terrible mistake....
Of course, the phrase “No Surrender,” could be applied to the McCain campaign as well. It was practically written off over the summer when it nearly ran out of money, forcing it to reduce its staff sharply and scale back its operations in all but three states, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In a trip here just last month, Mr. McCain was asked by local reporters at nearly every stop of the way if he was dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
No one asked if he was dropping out this week. And the McCain campaign, buoyed by good reviews Mr. McCain received last week at a debate in New Hampshire and by the prospect of his taking on a high-profile role in the Senate debate over Iraq, is very much hoping that it is beginning a comeback.
“All we need is a little money, my friends,” Mr. McCain said in a brief conference call with fund-raisers that he made from the bus between stops.
But any momentum could drain away in mid-October if the campaign fails to show a robust bank balance when the next fund-raising figures are announced. And so far Mr. McCain has spent much of the month not raising money but discussing Iraq in the Senate and on trips like this one, trips that will continue in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“The bad news is that all of this is obviously taking away from fund-raising time,” Mr. McCain told the fund-raisers on their call. “We’ve got to show a pretty good quarter.”
On the road, the campaign is drawing enthusiastic crowds. The tour began Tuesday in Sioux City in a hangar at Col. Bud Day Field, where Mr. McCain was introduced by Mr. Day, a Medal of Honor winner who nursed Mr. McCain back to health when they were both held prisoner in North Vietnam.
Mr. McCain remarked on the imposing statue of Mr. Day that stands outside the airport. “I think the statue is kind of, a little bit too flattering,” he told the crowd. “I almost didn’t recognize him.”
In Des Moines, Mr. Day introduced Mr. McCain as “my fellow jailbird from Hanoi.” He also served as a kind of character witness, reminding the crowds that Mr. McCain was offered an early release by the North Vietnamese but refused to go until everyone who had been shot down before him, or was sicker than he, was released...
After extolling the virtues of running a “lean and mean” underdog’s campaign, Mr. McCain then had some praise for Mrs. Clinton — or at least her campaign.
“I’d love to be in Hillary Clinton’s position,” he said. “She’s conducted a very good campaign, and she’s continued to increase her lead.”
“Although I don’t know if I could take an $850,000 hit,” he added with a laugh, referring to the Clinton campaign’s decision to return $850,000 that was raised by Norman Hsu, a fund-raiser with legal troubles. “We might have to shut the doors.”
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"Can New Hampshire Revive McCain?" - on Wednesday, September 12. Here are some key excerpts:
Senator John McCain arrives in Portsmouth, N.H., Wednesday night to begin the second leg of what he has dubbed his "No Surrender Tour," a traveling Iraq war and campaign pep rally engineered to coincide with the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and its attendant media frenzy. Given the public's continuing frustration with the war and McCain's significant stumbles earlier this year, the presidential candidate's counterintuitive approach may seem like a risky strategy, but it now has staffers talking "comeback." A recent uptick in national polls and a strong performance in last week's New Hampshire debate has the campaign hopeful that the Senator's decision to, as an internal memo framed it, "own the surge" will reinvigorate McCain's chances among the Granite State's notoriously skeptical voters...
After the campaign imploded in the spring, with McCain's coffers all but dry and his bloated operation scaled back, the remaining staffers had always hoped to "rebuild Fort New Hampshire," the site of McCain's upset triumph in the 2000 primaries. They just didn't suspect the structure's foundations would be something as shaky as the war. Until recently, the thinking was, as one adviser put it, "what immigration is for McCain in Iowa, the war is for him in New Hampshire." Which is to say, it was killing him. And just as McCain would often bring up his immigration reform proposal in Iowa town halls whether someone asked about it or not, the candidate was equally irrepressible — even glib — about bringing up the war unprompted in New Hampshire. ("Thanks for the question, you little jerk," McCain told a student a Concord high school student who asked about his age last week. "You're drafted.")
But campaign advisers say New Englanders are starting to respond to McCain's steadfastness on Iraq, even if they don't agree with his policies. They point to the focus group of New Hampshire Republicans assembled by Frank Luntz to watch last week's debate; McCain's numbers spiked the highest when he told the audience that he empathized with their "frustration" and "anger" over the situation in Iraq, and that he wants to bring the troops home as well...
Voters' willingness to see past their differences with McCain on the war may also have to do with McCain's carefully calibrated moves to distinguish between his support for the war and his support — or lack of it — for the Bush Administration. He's long emphasized, as he made a point of doing during the Petraeus hearing, that he was one of primary critics of the Administration's handling of Iraq. But when he emphasized it as a point of distinction just prior to the New Hampshire debate — saying that his skepticism about Bush's strategy predated that of even the Democratic candidates — the message finally resonated, says senior aide Mark Salter.
Of course, it's easy to speculate about McCain's surge now, but assessing his improvement on the ground is as difficult to do as in Iraq... And McCain's ability to sell his stance on the war as a principled stand may not matter if he doesn't have enough money to get his message across...
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I sat in on Sen. McCain’s blogger conference call this afternoon hosted by Ankle Bitings Pundit’s Patrick Hynes.
Sen. McCain was in Iowa this afternoon on his multi-stop “No Surrender” tour. He will head out to New Hampshire later this evening.
Here are the highlights:
Sen. McCain began by calling out Sen. Hillary Clinton over her statements regarding Gen. Petraeus report to Congress and the “suspension of disbelief” and called on her to repudiate MoveOn.org’s attacks on the general. McCain believes that if you are not tough even to take on MoveOn.org, then you are not tough enough to be President of the United States.
The first question came from Townhall.com’s Matt Lewis, who asked in light of his skirmish with Gov. Mitt Romney during [the debate], does he feel that some of the GOP candidates are hedging their bets regarding the outcome of The Surge. McCain responded that the reason he reacted in that manner with Gov. Romney was due to his use of the words/phrases “apparently” and “seems to be” when talking about the success of The Surge so far. McCain wished to remind us that he was the only candidate to repudiate the failed Rumsfeld Doctrine. He also stated that he would like to see his fellow candidates become more active in raising support among the America People for The Surge.
Jennifer Rubin asked if he sensed any “stiffening of the spine” among his Congressional peers after the general’s report this week. McCain stated that some of the success on the ground that is due to Gen. Petraeus and the hard work and sacrifice of the troops under his command has made it through the media filter and has served to strength some members’ resolve. President Bush’s attention to raising awareness of the success of the new strategy has helped as well.
Paul Mirengoff of Powerline asked if a commitment to withdraw some troops is wise in light of Petraeus’s admission that parts of Baghdad have yet to be secured. The Senator responded that he is confident in Petraeus’s judgment and is certain that he would not withdraw troops if it would affect our success in this conflict. McCain believes that a limited withdrawal of troops is likely indicative of Iraqi forces being able to fulfill their responsibilities.
Betsy Newmark asked a question, posed by her students, which asked what he would do specifically as President to drum up support for the war. McCain stated that success on the ground is what is essential in this regard and candidly remarked that the next six-months are going to be critical. Restoring trust and confidence in the Presidency among the American People, Congress, and the Government in Washington is key. In a follow-up question, McCain stated that history will likely base its judgement on George W. Bush’s presidency on Iraq, but reminded us that President Truman left office with very low support among the American People, yet history has been kinder to him in hindsight.
Rob Bluey of Redstate asked if he was addressing the American People, as President Bush is tomorrow, what would he tell them? McCain stated he would base his address on the Petreaus report and in as much detail as possible. He also stated that if he were President, he would be addressing the American Public on a weekly basis. Secondly, he would be much more open to admitting the military mistakes that have been made so far in the conflict. Clear in this call is that fact Sen. McCain intends to make the case that he is the most qualified Republican in the field to be Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Military during this time of global conflict. He does have quite a stake to that claim in his past repudiation of Rumsfeld Doctrine, as well calling for the what has come to be called “The Surge” as early as 2003.You can read the original post by clicking here. You can contact Campaignia at email@example.com.
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