January 20th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
5 years ago

McCain brushes aside suggestion of weak Republican support

(CNN) – John McCain Sunday brushed aside suggestions exit polls from the South Carolina Republican primary suggest he still is failing to garner widespread support from his party's base.

"I got more votes than anybody else, and it says that I got it from across the spectrum from all over the state," McCain told CNN's Dana Bash. "We expected this to be a very highly contested race, and for the 28 years the candidate who has won South Carolina has been the nominee of the party."

The Arizona senator edged out Mike Huckabee Saturday night in the first Southern primary of the race, 33 percent to 30 percent. But according to exit polling, McCain narrowly trailed Huckabee in support from the 80 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Huckabee won 32 percent of their support compared to McCain's 31 percent. (McCain overwhelmingly won among the remaining 20 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as independents.)

McCain has long had difficulty currying favor from his party's conservative wing. Despite his solid voting record in the senate, many ardent Republicans have been unhappy with his past willingness to team up with liberal Sens. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform and Ted Kennedy on immigration. McCain drew only 26 percent of the conservative vote in South Carolina Saturday.

Support from the base will be crucial in upcoming contests: McCain now faces a bevy of state primaries where independents are not allowed to participate, beginning with Florida’s vote on January 29. But the Arizona senator is predicting that his support among veterans, his economic proposals, and his record on environmental issues important to many Floridians will carry him to victory there.

Related video: Watch Dana Bash's interview with Sen. McCain

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: John McCain • South Carolina primary
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. BMTT

    Hey dan shore,

    In case you didn't know, writing in all upper case letters is considered yelling. It seems rude. I don't think that was your intention.

    But I do agree with your point.

    January 20, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. RB, from the bay state

    Well, it looks like the Swiftboaters have begun their scuttling of John McCain.

    Chief blowhard Rush Limpbawl launched the first torpedoes a month ago, and now it's full speed ahead to send the SS McCain to the bottom.

    Hardcore Republicans hate McCain because he actually has the ability to work with the opposing party. And that's not acceptable to the rabid right.

    If the GOP goes with Romney and the voters fall for his promise-them-everything philosophy, it's over for America.

    January 20, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. RAMBO McCain

    Dinosaur Rambo McCain maybe an old Rambo but he can still push the launch nuclear weapons button.

    Rudy and Huckabee would rip up the IRS.

    Rudy one page document is stupid and cancell income tax by Huckabeee is dumb.

    Romeny Economy is the only guy thats going to win, because he says JOBS JOBS JOBS and he has the right balance. He brought the world together in the Olympics he can do it for America.

    January 20, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. ym763

    McCain is the only Republican I'd consider voting for. A lifelong fiscal conservative, I look at my party and wonder how it was hijacked by the ultra right wing. I suppose the answer is moderates like me stood by and let it happen.

    January 20, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Rep. Voter

    I googled Romney's win and got a picture of McCain. Doesn't anybody think it is a little strange that all these newspapers are endorsing McCain?

    MCCAIN IS THE WRONG PARTY AND WILL DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. He really should be running as an independent but I think the media and McCain new he wouldn't have had a chance. I like McCain, I am just don't believe he should be representing the Republican party.

    He lost SC in 2000 because of some negative comments he made about evangelicals, not dirty politics. However the media never talks about.... It also took a him a long time to say no to Kerry as running mate. If he was really true to his party... why we would have to think about.

    Sure, he says done a few good things but also done things that hurts the party like this whole campaign finance reform. Now I have to listen to all these 527 groups sling mud and they can't technically be linked to the any candidate as a smear campaign ads. That hurts the Republican party.

    They will back the candidate that they think Hillary can beat. Trust me... If McCain wins the nomination ( I hope not) than they will many of his so-called media supporters will turn on him real fast.

    Just look at McCain's political endorsements. He is the establishment and has been moving away from the Republican party for some time.

    If MCCAIN WINS THE NOMINATION, I WILL VOTE FOR HILLARY. I would rather have a Democrat in the white house than kill the Republican party. The Reagan coalition is not dead until yet. THIS IS WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA REAL AGENDA. Liberals own television 4-1. Republican views (moderate and conservative have a voice in radio not television .

    Besides, if McCain does win the presidency (which I doubt, against Hillary) it will not be a big loss to democrats because liberals have a friend in John McCain.

    True story...

    My mom is a die-hard liberal democrat. We don't talk politics much because I am a Conservative Republican. I asked her who she liked? She told me that she is voting for Hillary but also likes John McCain.

    January 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Brad, Idaho

    I dont care what he says, the guy is just too old.

    January 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. xtina - chicago IL

    All the candidates make promises- that's part of campaigning. But look at who has actually done what they believe in. Obama says "change" but what has he "changed" in the five or six years he's been in politics? Edwards and Hillary are actually honest in that they believe in taxes + bigger government and have records showing it. But if you want less of your money to go to Congress, Guiliani + Romney are probably best because they've actually managed budgets successfully, lowered taxes and cut welfare. Rudy Guiliani took a city called "ungovernable" and cut crime. Romney far outshines any candid. of either party in economics. Isn't that the "number one issue" at which voters are looking? Oh, No, let's vote for Hillary or Obama who wouldn't know what they teach in Business 101. So my bottom line is, which candidates have actually already done what they're promising?

    January 20, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Tony Milliken

    Well, Lets see, I think You all should look at How Liberal Mr. Romney was as Govenor and when his dad was Govenor of Michigan he raided the retirement fund to Balance the Budget... Our family calls him Barbie boy, cause he is so Fake and looks like plastic..... Look, on Immigration, no one no one is going to send them back, if you believe that you would believe anything... I like John McCain because He is Honest,, thats what we need no more people Like Bushy, Clinton etc... And, lets face it he can reach across party lines and get things done and everything might not suit all of us but it might be whats best for America.. I say GIVE HELL JOHN.........................

    January 20, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Val Davydov, MA

    CNN,

    Did I say something that offended you? What happened to my post?

    January 20, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    ... the GOP does not have much choice: They don't like any of their candidates and know that Democrats don't like the GOP line-up either.

    Mitt and the "race card?" The conservatives who hyperventilated about the Democrats’ explosion of identity politics seemed to forget that Mr. Romney also dragged Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into this campaign — claiming that he “saw” his father, a civil-rights minded governor of Michigan, march with King in the 1960s. The point of Mitt Romney’s invocation of the race card was to inoculate himself against legitimate charges of racial insensitivity; he had never spoken out about his own church’s discrimination against blacks, which didn’t end until 1978. Instead, the tactic ended up backfiring. Late last month The Boston Phoenix exposed this touching anecdote as a fraud. George Romney and King never marched together.

    .... the press and some frantic republicans are willing to gloss over much of the truth about Mitt... including the fact that he hired the company that hired illegal aliens not once but twice ....and that company got off scott free...

    Go ahead, GOPer's, stay home and let patriotic Americans choose their president. If you don't vote, you can't complain ...

    January 20, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. ne,pa

    McCain's your man if you want war and more war. And when he brings the draft back it won't be the illegals he allows in that will be drafted!

    January 20, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    to ronnie knoxville tn

    "Sorry John, but anyone who teams up with Ted Kennedy is not a conservative !"

    *******************************************

    ....... after bi-partisan No Child Left Behind (Bush idea) and the Bush Guest Worker Plan that McCain supported ...

    it follows that Bush must not be a conservative!!! You don't mean to tell me that a Republican President lied!!!!

    January 20, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Rep. Voter

    Is Thompson playing "wing man" for McCain?

    I am not a Thompson hater but recent events kinda do look suspicious and THOMPSON HAS campaigned for MCCAIIN in the past.

    Thompson has been a sleeper candidate this whole time and finally wakes up when he gets to South Carolina.

    ALSO, a little suspicious that Thompson only campaigned in SC where it would hurt Huckabee.

    You would think he would campaign in more places than that.

    It feels like Thompson has been saying... Hey, man I am only the wing man. I just here to help my buddy score South Carolina and maybe Florida... then I am out.

    Thompson coming alive in South Carolina ONLY BENEFITED MCCAIN... it really didn't do anything for Thompson and hurt HUCKABEE.

    Did anybody really feel Thompson had a chance after SC? He was dead and buried in the polls. Romney is a Mormon and he was even doing better in the polls than Thompson, who is from a neighboring state.

    He also made a speech that gave the impression that he may be bowing out?

    I wonder if Thompson is waiting to see if McCain will drop in the polls in Florida before he announces that he will be endorsing McCain....

    Are we going to see a McCain / Thompson ticket? Just a theory anyway.

    January 20, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Rep. Voter

    January 20, 2008 4:10 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I googled Romney's win and got a picture of McCain. Doesn't anybody think it is a little strange that all these newspapers are endorsing McCain?

    MCCAIN IS THE WRONG PARTY AND WILL DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. He really should be running as an independent but I think the media and McCain new he wouldn't have had a chance. I like McCain, I am just don't believe he should be representing the Republican party.

    He lost SC in 2000 because of some negative comments he made about evangelicals, not dirty politics. However the media never talks about…. It also took a him a long time to say no to Kerry as running mate. If he was really true to his party… why we would have to think about.

    Sure, he says done a few good things but also done things that hurts the party like this whole campaign finance reform. Now I have to listen to all these 527 groups sling mud and they can't technically be linked to the any candidate as a smear campaign ads. That hurts the Republican party.

    They will back the candidate that they think Hillary can beat. Trust me… If McCain wins the nomination ( I hope not) than they will many of his so-called media supporters will turn on him real fast.

    Just look at McCain's political endorsements. He is the establishment and has been moving away from the Republican party for some time.

    January 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. RB, from the bay state

    McCain is the only one out there willing to say that overspending is what is killing this country. Try doing what Washington does with your own household budget.

    All the other Repubes want to continue spending like drunks with a carload of charge cards. McCain has plenty of faults, but it's nice to see someone put their finger on the problem – reckless spending by the BushBots.

    January 20, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. annette

    Phillip Kay wrote: Thanks O thee Mormon faithful for your own brand of misinformation. McCain is genuine

    Yes McCain is a genuine democrat.

    Vote Mitt 08...

    January 20, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Steve Blaine Washington

    The question of McCain's elgibility to run for President certainly rests with the definition of the term natural born citizen as a qualification in the Constitution.
    However, there may be only one definition in the Constitution but there is probably
    at least a 100 in debates and other books relative to the Constitutional.
    I know of at least 10 myself which put meaning to the term and I am in process of documenting so that I may publish them.

    January 20, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. frank5057

    alice newman – Bush is no conservative, he is a globalist. mccain is a moderate republican with some liberalism in him, don't trust him. i voted Republican for 4 decades, no more. washington is built on compromise, when you start compromising little things, compromising big things is right around the corner. the politicians have compromised this country down the toilet. the only hope we had was in the likes of Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Fed Thompson and Ron Paul. problem is these men are "to conservativer" for the RNC to back them, they, like the DNC want to keep the status quo with centrists/moderates. if any of you have children and grand children theri fates where sealed many years ago

    January 20, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Hillphil

    I Agree with Juliana

    I am a lifelong Republican and I will not vote in this election if he gets the nomination. He is a phony.
    Amen

    January 20, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  20. Dave Sheehan

    Has anybody anywhere near the Palmetto State said the obvious? That Mcain "won" because Thompson siphoned off votes that would have fallen into Huckabees lap? If you think the Repubs will forgive and forget, Macs heresies ask Pat Buchannan what office he will run for next!

    Ron Paul for President!

    January 20, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. tobi

    McCain has to be gumming his dentures over the possibility of facing Hillary Clinton. (I tease. I would vote for McCain in that matchup.) Clinton pulls only from the democratic faithful and is widely disliked by Republicans and Independents (I am in the latter category). If it does boil down to McCain vs. Hillary, McCain will get the moderate republican and independent vote and will get the evangelical vote as they curse their way to the polls to vote against Hillary. It really would be a best case scenario for McCain.

    It is looking like there is potential for a landslide Republican victory.

    January 20, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  22. Anonymous, Somewhere, MI

    Oh I love this. . . . "McCain's not a real Republican because he did x, y, z. . ." Hey, not everybody who has an opinion of his own on something is a RINO. What a stupid word too, RINO. It got thrown around a lot with Lincoln Chafee too. I bet you all wish we had Lincoln Chafee back right about now don't you, rather than a Democratic majority. Get this through your thick "true conservative" skulls, conservative idealogues account for less than a third of the electorate. Once this nomination contest is over you will need us moderates and independants to win the presidency. If you nominate a candidate who is further from us politically than the Democratic nominee guess who we will end up voting for in the end. Some of you say if McCain is the nominee you will stay home or vote for someone else, guess what a large chunk of us moderate will do once you put Romney at the helm of the party. Think we're above jumping on board with Clinton, or with even less reluctance for Bloomberg when he gets into the race? I'm sick and tired of the far right strong-arming the center. You want your "true conservative?" You can have him and you can have the party. But you don't get us with it. Good luck winning elections without us.

    January 20, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  23. teri moats

    McCain was the ONLY non-conservative, with the exception of Ron Paul (who is an admitted Libertarian), in the race. 33% of the vote went that way. And McCain was advertising a more conservative message than he is actually ascribed to (in fact it's fair to call him a Democrat since he has been the big ring leader in the agenda against Bush on conservative matters). And the facts are still the facts, he won only because of the INDEPENDENT votes. More than 60% of the state cast votes for a conservative candidate. The main thing is that McCain knows the stats. If Guliani would have campaigned in S.C. McCain's votes would have been sliced to about 60% of what he recieved. If Fred Thompson would have dropped out before the primary, Huckabee would have slaughtered McCain. Thompson isn't worth menitioning again. He sucker punched the primary in this state. His newly found faith empowing him to stay in more round against Huckabee. Shame on you Fred. But McCain's glory will not last. If he does, and I do not think he will, make it on the general ticket. He will loose. Christians and conservative will stay home. He doesn't have a chance. But if Huckabee is on the ballot. The voters will be out. Republicans, dump this phoney, McCain and let's get on with the race.

    Folks, Bush may not be the best President that America has ever known, but he didn't waffle on the appointment of Supreme Justices. Do you trust McCain. He'll probably appoint Barbara Boxer.

    January 20, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. Jared C.- in Korea

    McCain does not have the support of the GOP. He is too far off on so many issues on so many levels.

    Romney is the man. He has the leadership, experience, and morals we did. He is a businessman who will get the job done. McCain and Huckabee just don't have what it takes to lead this country in all areas.

    Romney/Thompson 2008

    January 20, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  25. Joe

    Go McCain!!! We must keep the "spice" flowing. All you whiney cry
    babies, just SHUT UP!!! You all want to get in your vehicles and drive!
    Well, guess what? IT TAKES GASOLINE!!! And that, you small minded
    dim-wits comes from OIL!! So if you are crying because it cost's $3.00
    per gallon I wonder what you will do when there isn't any????THINK
    ABOUT IT!! We must keep our (expletive deleted)'s in the middle east
    if we want to keep driving our cars. The Liberal's didn't want us drilling
    in ANWR and off the Atlantic shelf,or the Gulf of Mexico...guess what??
    Now the cubans and south americans are drilling in the Gulf....you idiots
    better wake up and smell the OIL!!!! Keep the war going and keep the
    spice flowing.....Go McCain....

    January 20, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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