(CNN) - She was his running mate in the 2008 presidential election and now Sen. John McCain thinks Sarah Palin can beat President Barack Obama in 2012.
"Of course she can. She can. Now, whether she will or not, whether she'll even run or not, I don't know," the Arizona Republican said on "Fox News Sunday."
"But she certainly is a major factor and I believe she can be very competitive."
While he said she inspires "great passion, particularly among the Republican faithful," he also said her high unfavorable ratings have something to do with the attacks she's sustained in the national media.
"I've never seen anyone as mercilessly attacked and relentlessly attacked as I have seen Sarah Palin in the last couple of years," McCain said.
Palin's public flirtation with a bid for the White House reached new levels this week with the announcement of a bus tour that begins Sunday in Washington, D.C. The former Alaska governor has declared the "One Nation" trip an opportunity to "educate and energize Americans about our nation's founding principles, in order to promote the fundamental restoration of America."
But McCain acknowledged the campaign will be a "roller coaster" before the Republicans find their nominee.
When asked about the chances of his 2008 rival, Mitt Romney, winning the GOP presidential nomination, McCain said his biggest problem is "Romneycare," the health care plan Romney signed into law while he was governor of Massachusetts, and which bears resemblance to the current national law.
"I think he realizes that and is trying to address it," McCain said. "Whether he will address it successfully or not, I don't know. But he certainly has a good ground campaign in places like New Hampshire and others where he's really - you know, having been around the block once is always more helpful for next time."
– On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.
When is John McCain going to apologize to the nation for inflicting this self promoting mindless moron upon the nation?
I don't this guy can apologize and never will ! John need retire !
I used to have so much respect for this man. He did so many great things for this country. Then, he completely nullified all that achievement by foisting this loudmouthed, ignorant idiot Palin on the country. She has been a disaster for this country, and she doesn't yet hold a national elected office. I am a conservative and I think this.
The only voters going to vote for her is the TP and half of the Republicans base which is not enough, Sarah fan base is big, but Obama fan base is enormous! John is in a deep state of denial and not fully over the 2008 lost. Most Republicans dont like Sarah for public office. I forecast Obama winning the 2012 with no problems.
Just when I thought you had come back to your senses, you prove just how out -of-touch you are.
Your own WIFE won`t vote for Palin nor will your DAUGHTER.
Sarah Palin could not win in Alasks and they know her better than any of us.
Sir, you made a foolish pick in 2008. Let it go, Drop the shovel. You`ve dug a deep enough hole for yourself already.
This is the sound of delusion.
she's already spent so much time on dancing with the stars that she is a shoo-in when the next judging spot opens up.
She may have dazzled and fooled 600,000 people in Alaska (most high-school drop-outs that ran away from home), but she cannot get even that many votes from the 300,000,000 in the lower 48. NO WAY. Like Barbara Bush says "go back to Alaska and stay there".
Just imagine the mess if he had won 2008 with $arah! Breadlines everywhere. Please, keep the GOP/TP out of the game! The President is doing a great job considering the kind of “support” he is getting from the “opposition”! We would already have accomplished much more if the GOP/TP had not as the most important goal to make “the President fail” and had not mutilated into the party of “NO – Hell NO!”. Mc Cain is in the middle of this. Shame on him!
Hello? Palin is the REASON McCain lost. Nobody wanted an idiot like her waiting in the wings.
John McCain's entire legacy will be nothing but the words, 'He brought Sarah Palin into national politics.' Shame on you, John. Shame on you.
Mercilessly attacked? Or merely a pathetic circle of viscious reprisal by both sides?
If McCain loves the country more than he loves his political party, he will campaign against Palin. He has to know she is the worst thing to happen to America since Vietnam.
The "Party Before Country" speaker has spoken AGAIN.
The man who unleashed $a®ah on the world. McCain's folly will make him the butt of academic political history jokes for as long as we continue to record history. He's oblivious. And this "Divided Nation" bus tour is a clinquant spectacle of trying to bilk and secure a portion of the populace she can drain for decades like a vampire.
I respected some of McCain's views in the past, but now I think he might have lost his mind. Is he serious? I never thought of him as a comedian.
mccain is the "King of the Welfare Queens". He hasn't spent a day of his adult life without drawing a government check. Taxpayer funded education at Annapolis, 20+ years drawing a paycheck in the Navy, now receives an O-6 retirement check with Tricare, spent time drawing another government check as a US representative, now $180K per year plus benefits as a US Senator. mccain is a feeble, parasite that has only taken, without giving anything back to this country.
This ignorant Son of Cain created this monster called Palin and just like Dr. Frankenstein, seems more than willing to allow his monster to destroy what's left of this once great nation. Thanks for nothing, John. Now go away.
Yeah... No Mr. McCain.
I think the nurse forgot to turn you, leading to the development of a bedsore on the back of your head which is slowly devouring what is left of your brain.
In all seriousness. Yes, the media has been rather aggressive with Palin. The reason for this is not because we all secretly instinctively hate her, it's because she says very pointed, and ret... oops "special" things. What is the media to do, let her nonsensical ramblings spew forth across this nation unchecked? Any intellectual loves criticism because it forces them to check their conclusions and re-evaluate based upon new information. Sarah is not an intellectual. She is just a pig with lipstick that decided "politics are fun" and "i like monies." The sound of her own voice and the reflection in the mirror has formed a Sarah Palin Syren-loop – forcing all of us in the real world to listen to the idiotic rantings of both her and people like myself (who have enough free time to write lengthy diatribes about how worthless she is)
If you remember-she said she could beat him in 2008. This monkey belongs in a zoo.
@ RLA: Education is important and is the reason why we are in this mess. I am not saying that I would want to live anywhere else, but one of America's societal downfall is that, unlike other countries, we do not value education and see its importance in being competitive in the global market.Off-shoring jobs to use cheap labor and line big business pockets is going to last but so long.
Whose next? Joe The Plumber??
She's been attacked by the media because she's just plain stupid. It's FUN to write about people who are so inadequate and inane.
Yeah, well he thought he could beat Obama too......Palin is beloved by her minions but by the majority of voters not so much. If she is the nominee and for her to have a snowball's chance to win the Republicans will have to come up with a way to disenfranchise 3/4 of legal voters.....
McCain i was going to vote Republican and vote for you, but that very first day you introduced that crazy and attention-hungry beauty queen, i was surprised with your selfish decision and became a Democrat. Do not be in "denial"...you lost millions of votes "when you made the very wrong decision and had that fake and insincere woman from nowhere" to be your vice. You were willing to ignore and sacrifice the good of America...you were equally selfish thinking only of yourself when you made the decision.
how out of touch. i do feel sorry for mcaine. thankfully he lost the election. hindsight explains how they wound up running together. both not all there