Charles Town, WV (CNN) - As he stumps for a string of Republicans in increasingly bitter races, Sen. John McCain warned candidates against overconfidence and defended recent searing attacks on his Democratic colleagues.
"These are harsh times," he said, in response to a reporter's question about his criticism of Sen. Barbara Boxer and a conference call in which he slammed Sen. Patty Murray over the use of earmarks.
"She engages in that corrupt practice. Now whether she is corrupt I will let other people make judgment," McCain said on the call.
McCain did not back away from those statements Tuesday.
"[Senator Murray has] wasted millions and millions of taxpayers dollars," McCain said. "I have been to the floor for 20 years saying that earmarking was a corrupt practice so why should I be reluctant to say it when one of the most ardent practitioners of it will continue on that path?"
The senator from Arizona also warned fellow Republicans not to claim victory before the ballots are counted, reminding them "it isn't over till it's over."
McCain was campaigning in West Virginia with Senate hopeful John Raese, a longtime Republican candidate and businessman who is waging an unexpectedly close race against the state's popular Democratic governor, Joe Manchin.
McCain saved a few choice words for Manchin as well. Republicans in the state have enjoyed great success in portraying the well-liked governor as a rubber-stamp supporter for Democrats in Washington, especially the president.
"Gov. Manchin is running away from President Obama as fast as he can on literally every issue," McCain said. "If I could make a suggestion, I would suggest the governor become a Republican and run against Rockefeller next time."