MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, rallied his supporters after Tuesday night's debate in the state he beat George Bush seven years ago, and told them it will be another hard primary fight this election cycle.
He told supporters gathered at Jillian's Restaurant in Manchester "something about this state inspires me," and thanked supporters who were with him in 2000.
But he cautioned "it's a long time between now and next January.".
McCain added that his campaign has "the wind at our back."
But he said they'd have to repeat their strategy in 2000, "convincing Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, vegatarians that I'm qualified to be president."
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk
How about McCain kills troops? 3,496 to be exact. And has wounded between 23,000-100,000. BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!!
Would that McCain WOULD repeat his strategy from 2000, courting Dems and independents [like myself] and sure, vegetarians, too [not to mention gays/lesbians: man up, John, and sponsor a bill to rescind don't ask, don't tell].
But it seems McCain has courted the right wing of the GOP in this primary season. Perhaps this is due to Rudy's presence in the center, and McCAin feels he needs to occupy the spot not taken by his chief oppoent. In 2000, Bush was his chief opponent, and the right wing was squarely behind W. So McCain was left to take the centrists. Also, McCain may have concluded he didn't win the nomination in 200 BECAUSE he was too far left. Unfortunate lesson! I think the party is ready for a moderate now that we see where Bush has taken it. Or, if I may more accurately say, I think the party is ready to nominate a true, Goldwater-style conservative [Ron Paul?], a fiscal, common-sense conservative. I think McCain has always had a record that suggests this is more his brand of politics. But I think he is pandering to the right because strategists say you can't win the GOP nom without speaking at places like Liberty U. That vaccuum just leaves the center wide open to moderate Dems like Hillary. My advice to McCain is to challenge Rudy and Mitt for the center; if you aren't courting the right, no one is, and they don't seem that pleased with you anyway [probably because they remember how you embarrassed W. in New Hampshire in 2000].
I think McCain had an outstanding performance in last night's debate. I feel that he is the most knowledgable and experienced candidate in the field and that McCain has a sense of core decency that many of the other candidates lack. I would love to have him as my president.