The Campaign Spot

John McCain’s Conference Call With Bloggers This Afternoon

McCain begins, “I’m very happy with the way things are going on the campaign trail. I’m very pleased we were able to beat back Democratic efforts to set a date for withdrawal or surrender. And the No Surrender Tour was very exciting…”

 

“The reason why we beat back a number of Democratic amendments was because of Petraeus’ performance. Americans got to see the honesty and integrity and leadership qualities of this man. The point was not to make a blank check or unlimited commitment, but a lot of Americans thought, ‘I think this guy is convincing enough to give him some more time to let this strategy succeed.’ It took some of the fight out of the Democrats’ efforts…”

 

“They saw a favorable impression made by Petraeus and Crocker – the best of what we like to see in people who are in the Foreign Service.”

 

On Burma: “I’m glad the president has condemned what’s going on, slapped some more restrictions on Burma — I refuse to call it Myanmar… The slaughter of Buddhist monks is unacceptable in the twenty-first century. It’s time for some firm, decisive actions against these thugs running that country.”

 

Jen Rubin: You’re polling better in New Hampshire, not as well in Iowa? Shifting resources? And money?

 

McCain: We’ve got enough money to do well, to do what we need to do. It’s not so much we’ve raised so much more money, as we’ve cut our budget way back, which we should have done much earlier. We have a comfortable amount. I’m not as well known in Iowa as I am in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 

Dan: Approaching 40th anniversary of your getting shot down – any commemoration?

 

McCain: It’s just a day. Just thinking out loud here, maybe I’ll fly over Hanoi again and see if they want to shoot at me again. (laughter) The [U.S.S.] Forrestal fire is a more impactful day. Maybe I’ll call up some of my old buddies.

 

James Joyner: What kind of action in Burma?

 

McCain: Tell Chinese they’ve got to stop supporting this regime. Bring pressure on them, do it publicly. The President was very appropriate at the U.N. – lead a chorus of condemnation. Take political, diplomatic, and economic action. I hope you didn’t take it as a call to invade Burma.

 

I revere this woman. I revere this woman as much as any figure in history. [I believe he’s referring to political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.]

 

Earlier he mentioned that the only picture on the wall of his office that isn’t a family member is a portrait of her.

 

Captain Ed: No appearance at last night’s debate?

 

McCain: We wanted another date for the debate. Just don’t have time to do all events. I’m sorry I missed it. I would have liked to negotiate to get another date.

 

Me: In the Democratic debate Wednesday night, none of the top three Democratic contenders said they could guarantee all troops out by January 2013. Any thoughts? Is this the Petraeus effect?

 

McCain: I believe it’s the Petraeus effect; it’s an authentication of the Petraeus effect. In previous debates, they were tripping all over each other to offer the earliest withdrawal date. I was intrigued, entertained and exhilarated by their comment we may need to be there for a long time.

 

We have troops in Balkans, South Korea, Okinawa —  Americans don’t mind that we have troops in these countries. We have a long-term relationship with Kuwait, Oman, and other countries in region. The key is to have an environment where the fight is under control. The insurgency will be there for a long time, just as al-Qaeda will be around for a long time. But I’m glad to see [the Democrats] found themselves on the road to Damascus.

 

Phil Klein: Hillary’s baby bond proposal, $5,000 per child, your reaction?

 

McCain: I’d be interested to know how she would pay for that. Raising taxes? I’d like to give every baby born $100,000; I’d just like to know how to pay for it.

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