February 17th, 2008
10:55 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain: Winning in the fall will be 'uphill battle'

(CNN) - Likely GOP nominee John McCain said Sunday that beating an energized Democratic party in a fall election fight would be “an uphill battle all the way.”

The Arizona senator told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week that he “can out-campaign them, and I can out-debate them, and I can out-perform them” but conceded that he had his work cut out for him in the months ahead.

“...We've got to reunite the party, and we've got to re-energize the party. And I'm prepared to do that. We've got plenty of time. But I won't waste a day,” said McCain.

The Arizona senator, who is close to capturing the number of delegates required to claim the Republican nomination, has struggled to win over much of the GOP’s conservative base. But party leaders have begun to rally to his side: Monday, he is scheduled to receive the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush.

Looking ahead, McCain said Sunday that - as President Bush had in 2004 - he would look to compete in California, where he won this year’s Republican presidential primary.

The senator, who supports the administration’s surge policy in Iraq, also repeated a familiar attack against potential opponents Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - saying that they favored eventually setting a date for withdrawal from that country, a policy that would “bring chaos, genocide. And we'll be back, because Al Qaeda will then succeed.”

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. RfromOhio

    McCain–we watched you interview this morning.
    You are definitely, in our opinion, the most capable on all the issues.
    You've got our vote MArch 4!

    February 17, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Dem in Chicago

    He's right about that. It's gonna be like climbing Mt. Everest... And he's gonna fail. Democrats will win in Nov.

    February 17, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Trev

    I respect McCain's status as a national hero, but he can not outperform Hillary Clinton. His position on the war hurts our national interests. His economic policy is step forward from Bush, but way behind Hillary. On foreign policy, he has some good ideas, but they will be overshadowed by his obsession with the war in Iraq.

    Hillary 08

    February 17, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain has one narrow view policy only, fear, fear, and more fear, McCain himself should be feared. McCain has no developmental policies to move our country forward, just the same old song and dance. He's too old and doesn't think progressively and it's too late in the day for another GWB.

    February 17, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Charlotte

    I agree, a withdrawal date is unrealistic. We must prevail and this country will continue to have a presents like other countries.

    February 17, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Bruno

    I love how McCain speaks of uniting the Republican Party. Obama and Clinton speak of uniting the country. And they (Republicans) wonder why voter turn-out is higher on the Dem side. Good luck uniting your friends McCain. We'll all be working together over here as a country to get things done. But we won't leave you and your friends out like you're making oh-so-clear that you'd leave us out.

    February 17, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Mike

    So, Mr. Obama, please tell me more specific what do you want to do if NAFTA is not good for you. Don't just complain on current system, but you need to mention what kind of solution you wanna do in the office. NAFTA, for some points gave us benefits, so consumers can buy a cheaper products and for US the companies, by shifting their company overseas, they save millions and made a billions.

    February 17, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Frank

    It would be uphill against Obama – against Clinton they would not know where to start throwing her dirt at her since the Billaries are a living scandal. The Republicans don't have to play nice in order not to hurt Mr. Monica's or Billary's feelings.

    If Billary would smear herself and her Monica-Hubby into the nomination, I will contribute to the Republicans ... I don't think that crying will help Billary much in begging votes out of the Republicans.


    February 17, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Alice

    Well, he can certainly out-debate Barack – that's a given; that is, if Barack is man enough to debate McCain at all. Obama may just pull his old stunt and ask McCain to "check out his Website" instead – LOL! (Not that Obama will get away with it with the Republicans, no matter how much help he gets from the media or the chanting Obamabots)

    I don't think McCain can out-debate Hillary, though, and I think he knows it.

    February 17, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. CC

    Maybe it's just me, but didn't Mr. Romney continuously claim that Mr. McCain was really a liberal. Also, I believe that he has said that Mr. Huckabee was more conservative than Mr. McCain. Having said that, how could he endorse the "lesser" conservative. I guess someone showed him the money.

    February 17, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Jules

    Nothing like a little fear mongering to start the day....

    February 17, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Janet

    You bet it's going to be an uphill battle... If Barack Obama is the democratic nominee. Notice he doesn't even bother to attack HRC in any of his ads or speeches. He has plenty of material to deal with her if she somehow finds a way to win the nomination. He is only trying (and failing) to knock Barack Obama out so that he can face a known enemy–HRC, who really is more of a friend to the Republicans

    February 17, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. JP

    That's true if Clinton is the nominee otherwise it'll be cakewalk. Who will vote Obama other than the fired up primary voters?

    February 17, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Deb IL

    If Obama takes the nomination, the battle will be a little easier for McCain. I don't believe true conservatives (or moderates) will ever vote for Obama over McCain. A lot of his caucus and primary wins probably just came from Republicans who didn't want HIllary to make the cut, then they will swing back to their true Republican roots.

    February 17, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. djk_hello@aol.com

    Senator McCain...

    Keep defending the Bush Wealthy tax cuts, after you initially voted against them.

    Keep defending the Bush Iraq War presence.

    Keep thinking you can out debate the Dem's.

    Your about to find out how wrong you are on all three issues.

    Have you changed your mind again on waterboarding?

    February 17, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. La Raza

    Quite simple. McCain is Pro-Iraq war. He will not win.

    February 17, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. ben..west memphis ar.

    if you will look at the whole pic. john mcCain is the best hope we have. now all of you so cad christians out there should for your going to church with a bible under your arm, how can anyone claiming to be a christian vote for a democrat. now if you are so smart answer that i can-not and will not vote for any person that goes aganist thw word of GOD. mcCAIN IS A GOOD HONEST MAN. I am sure that i will not agree with all of his ways but he sure has more to offer than the dems. and as far as the war and gettin out, wll that wont work if any of you remember GEN macauthur told truman to give him the go ahead and he would gon to moscow and wuld have been through with war for a long time so what did truman do he fired gen mac, and how long was we out of korwhen we got nam. both under dems.
    think about your vote long and hard before jumping the gun/

    February 17, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. kim

    It will be an uphill battle for you Mccain if Obama wins the nomination. This republican will vote Obama along with thousands of my friends. He has united, instead of divided and it has shown along party lines. He is the best canidate in years, and the excitement he draws in independants and republicans alike is remarkable. If Hillary is the nominaton, you will not have a problem. Us republicans will unite like we were fighting against the devil itself and vote against her. So be very afraid of an Obama nomination, that will be your downfall. I just don't think some democrats are smart enough to figure out what they have in Obama. A canidate like this doesn't come around but once in a lifetime. He is what the country really needs to unite and bring hope to the American people. All people, and beyond party lines.

    February 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Janet

    You all don't know true Republicans like I do. There is no way any Republican would go out of their way to vote for a Democrat and run the risk that their choice for the Republican nomination would not win. Stop spreading propaganda and face the facts: Senator Barack Obama has hands-down wiped the floor with Hillary and she was unprepared for a good battle.

    February 17, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Pisces from Minneapolis

    Independents and Republicans have selected our candidate in the open primary states. The dynamic will be different in November. McCain is more centrist and hence not loved by the right: Obama is the most liberal Senator and hence too far left for many Democrats and most Republicans. Here comes Hillary up the middle and I will start a write-in campaign if she is not the nominee.

    February 17, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. Mike OH

    McCain will pick up a lot of votes from the Democrats if Obama winds up being the nominee.

    February 17, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Susan

    Senator McCain will be our next President. The Dems can't get their act together and Hillary and Barack combined don't have the experience an know how to direct the USA in time of war.

    February 17, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. We Can Do Better

    In Senator McCain I see a great hero who struggles to maintain his composure. I see a Candidate who has shown time and again how he loses his presence of mind and temper over little things that are out of his control. I see a Candidate who could lead us to premature preemptive action when delicate diplomacy is required. I see a Candidate who will make a tense situation worse. I see a Candidate who needs a staff to manage him. How can we have a President who struggles to handle the little things and think he will somehow be different facing Vladmir Putin or Ahmadenajad?

    February 17, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. HeatherNC

    My question is: what if Governor Huckabee wins in Wisconsin? What if Governor Huckabee wins in Texas? What will the GOP do? This whole issue is a little weird. I mean, it's the GOP's belief that this should be over and we must roll on with McCain. They don't want to continue a primary election. A number of Republicans are OK with that. News programs are reporting both pledged and unpledged delegates as they track McCain's progress to 1191. But a candidate must have 1191 pledged delegates. The unpledged are decided later. Am I wrong on this? I tried to get info at the Republican National Convention web site, but they have a blank page on their delegate link. They say information on the delegate process will be supplied shortly. What? We are in the middle of a primary...Why can't we be clear and transparent about our voting process. And the Democrats aren't much better off in their situation. Whether you support Governor Huckabee or not, is this not screwy? Gop.org has no information at all on the delegate process or what happens at convention. I only know what other folks have told me. I guess either party reserves the right to just turn things off when they want. And the media feels no obligation to be helpful in promoting understanding, and they just go along with the RNC and DNC wishes. If anyone has any insight for me, I would appreciate it. I don't think that this is a Partisan issue. I think all Americans are concerned, left, right, and in between.

    February 17, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Ben

    You bet it will be uphill... especially after how the GOP party establishment has shown such contempt for conservatives and engaged in voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Just look at what happened in Louisiana.

    February 17, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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