John McCain received standing ovations at several Veterans Day events on Sunday and Monday.
BEAUFORT, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. John McCain told supporters in South Carolina on Monday that if elected president he would lead America out of its "tough times" in the same way President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.
"I'd remind you, and there's a few of us old geezers around here who knew what it was like the last time we lost a war," the Arizona Republican said, referring to the war in Vietnam. "We lost it not because of our courage and bravery on the battlefield. It was because they won the war in the United States."
McCain, a decorated naval aviator, was campaigning in this coastal town that boasts a significant military population, on the day the nation observed Veteran's Day as a federal holiday.
"The fact is we had a dispirited nation," said McCain, who was shot down over Hanoi during a bombing mission and held as a POW by the North Vietnamese. "And out of California came a great leader, a great man who thought America's best days were ahead of us, who said 'Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,' who said, 'America is a shining City on a Hill.'”
McCain declared - as he does at most campaign stops - that "we are winning" in Iraq. He invoked Reagan's trademark optimism and said he would refuse to let the war efforts in Iraq succumb to domestic discontent, as was the case with the war in Vietnam.
"Every time I am around these brave young Marines, every time I am around these brave young Navy men and Army men and all of those people who are serving, I know that that feeling in America is wrong. Our best days are ahead of us," he said. "America is the greatest nation in the world. I am asking for your support in order to lead it."
McCain spent two days campaigning at Veterans Days events in South Carolina's Lowcountry, which is heavily populated by military veterans and their families. The Arizona senator, who marched in Veteran's Day Parade in Beaufort Monday, received hearty cheers and standing ovations at each event.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby