February 6th, 2008
02:04 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain vows to unite Republicans, ready to 'wrap this up'

 McCain said Wednesday he can unite the Republican Party.

McCain said Wednesday he can unite the Republican Party.

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain expressed pleasure and gratitude over his Super Tuesday showing and declared, "We will unite the party behind our conservative principles and move forward and win the general election in November."

The morning after proclaiming that he is now the front-runner among Republicans seeking the nation's highest office, the senator from Arizona told reporters in Phoenix, "I'm very pleased about the victory last night, obviously."

Standing in front of his "Straight Talk Express" bus, flanked by the man he has called his "favorite Democrat," Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, McCain said he was "pleased at the depth and breadth of our victory last night."

Supporters like Lieberman and Graham, he said, "gave us a broad base of support from all parts of this party."

McCain said he has canceled a planned trip abroad this weekend in order to "wrap this up as quickly as possible."

Asked about concern among "very conservative" Republicans that McCain is not conservative enough for their tastes, McCain said he is not worried.

"With conservative voters, which are the majority of Republicans, we did extremely well," he said. And comparing his home state with that of is conservative rival, he said, "We won by a much larger margin in Arizona than Governor (Mitt) Romney did in Massachusetts."

"Is there a lot of work to unite the entire party?" he asked rhetorically "Sure. After the campaigns are over, you've always got the task of uniting the party behind the nominee."

But he expressed confidence he can do just that. "Our message will be we all share common conservative principles," he said. "Fundamental conservative political philosophy, which has been my record."

McCain then addressed the issues that motivated many voters in Tuesday's elections. The nation is in "difficult economic times," but raising taxes "exacerbates the difficulties," he said.

He reiterated the he would cut wasteful spending rather than raise taxes, which "would be the worst thing we could do to our economy."

And he backed the call by President Bush for Congress to move quickly to pass an economic stimulus measure.

"If we say we're going to pass a stimulus package and then we don't, then that contributes to the cynicism and lack of trust."

McCain took pains to single out Lieberman as "a chapter in 'Profiles in Courage'" - an example of the kind of bipartisan politician he admires. "We

have a guy here who would stand up against his entire party and say, 'We've got to stand the course in Iraq,'" said McCain, who supports Bush's stay-the-course approach in that country.

"Al Qaeda will win if we do what the Democrats want us to do," he said about the Democratic presidential candidates' plans to draw down U.S. forces from Iraq quickly if one of them becomes commander in chief.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. doug marcus sewell, nj

    i have no idea what the right-wing wants other than defeat.
    mccain is pro-life, tax cutter / the emphasis of cutting spending as well, knows that the war on terror does not end just because you pul, out of iraq or afghanistan, and ruffles a few feathers that need ruffing time to time.
    you guys stop w/ the roney thing, he betrayed more republican principles in his defeat v sen kennedy and yet that goes unblemished. besides, he has proven to be unwinnable in the south because he is a terrible campaigner. johnny mac and the huckster are beating him soundly w/ their pennies v his $$.

    February 6, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. sam

    "Straight Talk Express"? Don't make me vomit. More like "Straight Jacket Express"!

    "Less Jobs, More War": Vote John Too-old-for-the-job McCain

    February 6, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. An Agnostic Democrat

    McCain should not have to unite his party since Hillary's "claiming" that she'll do the same for the Dems. That being said, there is an unaccounted, unreported and rather large contigency of Democrats who won't vote for her under any circumstances. Couple that with her potential for rallying the Republican base, and I think the Republicans will keep the White House. Congratulations on the early Christmas present! Fifty percent of the country doesn't like Hillary and add to that 25-33% of Dems and the Republicans have a winning combo. I hope all the Republicans wade through hell to vote for McCain and save this nation from another Clinton!

    February 6, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Walt, Belton,TX

    A McCain – Huckabee ticket would do it. Just have to keep Romney at home in Utah or wherever.

    February 6, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. aware

    Hillary 08

    McCain needs Huckabee but it seems no one needs Romney. I like Huckabee.
    How about a McCain Huckabee ticket? Then if BO sneaks in I would have someone to vote for. 🙂

    February 6, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Independent

    A couple of thoughts...

    1) A vote for Huckabee is a vote for Huckabee. What makes you think those voters who voted for Huckabee would have picked Romney as their 2nd choice? Romney's problem from the start was that he trashed his rivals in attack ads, then acted hurt when Huckabee/McCain hit back. Huckabee and McCain, whether they are wrong or right, cannot stand Romney... and as a result, I think a lot of their supporters can't stomach him either. As evidenced by the results in West Virginia, Huckabee supporters may very well have all gone to McCain in states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee... or at least a decent percentage of them. To continue to say that voting for Huckabee is taking votes away from Romney, it is just wrong! If you looked at the results yesterday across the country, Romney was in THIRD in almost every state! Huckabee would have the more legitimate argument that Romney is stealing votes from him!

    2) The whole business about accusing McCain/Huckabee of a backroom WV deal is pathetic, especially coming from a campaign who 24 hours before stated that one of the two rules in politics is "no whining." I am by no means an expert... but if I was a McCain supporter in that room yesterday, and saw that my candidate had no shot to win... it would be a no brainer as to who I would go stand with. It is common sense!!!

    3) "Conservatives" who say they refuse to vote for McCain or would vote for Hillary... Seriously... get a grip. You're actually willing to let Hillary pick the next 2-3 Supreme Court Justices? Doubt that.

    February 6, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Dan

    Dear America,
    Thanks for keeping us in the rest of the world entertained. Nothing beats the soap opera value that a US presidential election brings to the table.


    February 6, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |

    Most elections are nothing but choosing between lesser and greater evils. The problem is figuring out which candidate is the greater evil.

    February 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Nancy Lorrello

    I can't imagine voting for McAmnesty.....unlike other comments I think Mccain being held in Vietnam must have addled his brain..why else would he want to give our country away to a bunch of illegal alien criminals! He is a shame & disgrace to the republican party...anyone that would team up with Kennedy shouldn't even be considered for president. I hate, hate, hate John McCain.......

    February 6, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Melissa


    Of course, no coverage on CNN, because this is not as important as a headliner story such as Hulk Hogan endorsing Obama.

    Shame on you cnn.

    February 6, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Tru-Ticker

    McCain is coming on strong now and we had better be glad. He would have made us a good pres. in 2000 if he had the money to get past the Bush Bulldozer that bought their way in then. You've got to have a man that understands the military, terrorism, and foreign policy first, then the rest of the nations many,many,many problems can be addressed. But, we have to have strength and security before anything else. Go McCain, come-on haters, don't hate, appreciate !!!!

    February 6, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Nick

    Every one needs to quit whining about the candidates. The three remaining candidates are the best of what this country has to offer. If there was a better solution, that person would still be in the race. They may be not the best candidates for your specific needs, but for the country as a whole. Remember that when you vote you are supposed to vote for what is best for your country.

    February 6, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. Robert

    Given the number of delegates remaining, there is no mathematical way that Huckabee can get the nomination. It is time for him to bow and let the people in the remain states make the right decision.

    February 6, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Frank

    How about a brokered convention with all 4 still running? I think that would be good for the country and the party.

    February 6, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Sharon

    Alice in Florida –

    McCain is more of Bush. Much more.

    If he wins, we are in Iraq for 100 years, we will give amnesty to all illegal aliens and on and on and on.

    It should bother people in BOTH parties that McCain is winning on issues that his party has in overwhelming numbers refused to support. There is only a small contingent of war mongers in the party, and they do not want illegal immigration rewarded, yet McCain is winning, vs. Romney.

    Something is wrong with the party, when McCain can be elected on these issues.

    If this can happen to the Republicans, it can happen to any party.

    It should worry us all..

    February 6, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Can't be that bad?

    True McCain has crossed the line, but isn't that what America needs? Do we want more of the same that we have had for the last 8 years? God forbid.

    Not voting is not the answer. At least McCain is not claiming to "reunite the world" like Obama and his focused is on reuniting the US.

    I would rather see McCain in office that Obama any day and will cast my vote for him if Obama becomes the Dem nominee; which I doubt.

    I heard Fox News say today the Obama's claim to reunite the world is the same claim that Regan made. Doesn't surprise me that Obama still remains with nothing original, copycat a/h! Noe that is BAD!

    February 6, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. MA GOP

    I'm as disgusted with the current choices as the next guy, but staying home and not voting is 100% foolish. If you are that fed up, find a candidate in a small third party and support them. The GOP/Dems aren't changing course anytime soon, so if you disagree that strongly with them, find someone you can believe in. It's not "throwing away" a vote if you don't win, but not voting IS throwing away your vote.

    February 6, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. MA GOP

    Personally, I'm hoping Ron Paul runs on the Libertarian ticket. He has my vote.

    February 6, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Anna, IL

    I'm an Obama supporter, but I will only consider McCain on following two conditions:

    1. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee.
    2. Huckabee is NOT the running mate.

    I will vote for McCain if Hillary is the nominee, but only if McCain chooses a running-mate that is comparable to McCain. Given McCain's age, I do not want to wake up one day to see Huckabee (or Romney) as President of the United States. I am tired of the conservative extremists and extremists left. People like Romney and Huckabee are ultimate dividers, and they will further ruin this country. Nothing gets done, and never will. Aren't you sick of it? Can't we get along?

    Charlotte, look at the Exit Polls for each primary state. It even shows county-by-county votes. They're available on CNN's Election Results.

    February 6, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. JB Cali

    McCain should have wrapped it up in Indonesia.

    February 6, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Jose - Arizona

    McCain will not unite the (R) party. I would write in Mitt before voting for McCain.

    February 6, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Evergreen State

    The dems should be happy about this. A McCain nomination will ensure a Hillary/Obama victory. True conservative republicans will NOT vote for McCain. We will settle for another Jimmy Carter in office for 4 years rather than have McAmnesty de-face the GOP.

    Congrats dems, you did it this year! Start planning your victory parties now.

    February 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

    Yes, McCain can reunite the "Republican" party if we conservatives only abandon our principles. No thanks. I'll prefer to lose with my honor and integrity intact rather than win by abandoning all that I am.

    Check out Ronald Reagan's 1964 "A Time for Choosing" speech on YouTube (the full 9 minute speech). When liberals are mystified as to why conservatives "still" swoon at the memory of Ronald Reagan, watch this video and discover why.

    February 6, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. Jeannie, Sacramento, CA

    McCain is an old pandering fool. I can't ever forget how he spoke the gospel truth about Fat Boy Jerry Falwell and his ilk being "agents of intolerance," then surprised the hell out of all of us by speaking at Falwell's university commencement exercises. McCain only knows ONE thing - the war, the war, the war. He knows nothing about the economy, he couldn't define what an HMO is to save his life, and he certainly can't spell the words, "Illegal immigration." Yep, his imprisonment in Vietnam (I thank him for serving) has completely addled his brain!

    February 6, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  25. William

    This question goes to the voters of Arizona. This state is inundated with illegal immigrants, perhaps more than other states of the country. Senator McCain has been representing this state for 25 years. He did nothing to close state’s border with Mexico. Why people of Arizona kept reelecting this man to the senate, and now voted for him in presidential elections?

    February 6, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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