(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.
Obama managed to do two things that have eluded presidents for decades: pass health care reform and have Osama bin Laden shot in the eye. Palin can't even string a sentence together. I don't think that voters are dumb enough to vote her into office over Obama.
Please John, you have nothing to lose by being honest. Couldn't there be once ounce of integrity coming from your mouth? You were so promising in your earlier years.
I thought John McCain had 1/2 of a brain. But he really doesn't. There is nothing there. If Sarah Palin ever became president that would mean that the majority of American's have no more than a 3rd grade mentality, have absolutely no grasp of the issues, and thinks Africa is a country.
Uh...what about Obama? McCain is dreaming. He knows she's the weakest candidate in the field.
It's OK for Palin to come out swinging in her very first speech, but please, to say she was attacked by the media? She hasn't let up on the media or anyone else who disagrees with her for that matter since she stepped into the national spotlight. I am a woman and it is an embarrassment to say that she even has the qualifications or the thought process or public policy knowledge. She would quit that position too if it got too tough. And if she's qualified, we have certainly set the bar as low as it can get.
Delusional much? He's still trying to rationalize unleashing this idiot on us.
And McCain thought he could beat Obama in 2008. McCain is more of a delusional old fool than he was in 2008.
Haha!! Good one McCain..... this airheaded dingbat won't even be able to win her own parties nomination let alone beat Obama. He's a 2 term president..... get used to that idea right wingers.
All you lib's are so afraid of her, you can't stop knocking her. And the more you do it the more money she makes. lol, so who is the stupid one?
Someone needs to inform John that his OLD age is beginning to show with every open mouth insert foot comment. We are both registered Republicans and will (for the very first time ever) vote for the opposite party if the Palin name appears anywhere on the ballot !!
He should retire and be quiet. It does make sense that Palin is moving to the state of crazies. Since there will be no more "illegal" gardeners to take care of the Palin estate, John could mosey on over and do a little brush burning for Sarah.
John McCain will go down in histroy as having made the worst V.P. pick possible. He keeps lying about her and you know he has to realise what a screw up he made. He was deperate at the time to win. as he knew that it would be his last chance, and in my opinion he felt that he deserved the Presidency because he was more competent than Bush.
She is lost already. How said and a waste of all that money she could have donated to a food bank.
Will John McCain vote for Sarah Palin? I don't think so.
C'mon... what's he gonna say – that she CAN'T beat Obama? This isn't news, now is it a surprise in any way. Just McCain putting out another installment of Republican-speak.
I can see the Palin campaign now – "I'm a victim of vicious lies and attacks by the lamestream media. Vote for me and I'll show them a thing or two!"
Imagine, sarah palin was the president of THE UNITED STATES, several things would have happened: The world leaders would have laughed at us. She would have used the word refudiate instead of repudiate in every speech here and abroad. She would have gone in history, for being the clueless, dumbest, joke etc president ever. Jesus would have been mad at us for electing her. That we cannot afford.........
it's people like you that make me want to work harder to keep Obama in office just keep you ticked off and unhappy.
I finally get your humor
Can anyone in the GOP tell the truth?
"cody: Osama will be defeated in 2012!"
Here's a news flash. Osama was defeated in 2011. President Obama did it!
run Sarah, run Sarah, run.. run..run!
Naturally McCain thinks Sarah can beat President Obama ..... McCain thought he and Sarah could beat Obama .... how did that work out for you Johnny?
Just when I started getting a little bit of respect back for McCain following his stances on torture he has to go and get all far right republican wingnutty again. Of course Palin could beat Obama; if every single Democrat and Independent that can rub three brain cells together all stay home and only the loony far, far right votes.
"Palin Power said: "McCain is truly inferior to Palin in every single way. However he is completely right in this one instance. This country needs Sarah Palin as our next and greatest President. McCain knows he will never be president. Men will never be president and vice-president after President Sarah Palin!"
NOBODY will be President if Palin gets elected because if she wins, this country will be devastated and the laughing stock of the world.
Oh yes, Senator we agree. Please everyone, do everything you can to make sure that Sarah is the GOP nominee. I know a whole bunch of us who will be "crossing the line" to "vote" for her in the primaries. Obama's next term is a lock.
Saran Palin cost you to win In 2008, And you think she can beat President Obama. Boy him I glad that you pick her to be your Running mate ,because I was going to vote for you ,till you pick her. Saran Palin Is the Biggest Idiot i ever seen , She Is Clueless about anything. And she Is the most UNQUALIFIED reason In America to run for President. John McCain I all way Thought of you of being a smart man, Now i agree with People that you are getting to old and your Judgement Is getting bad. May It Is time you Quit. This woman shouldn't even be a loud be run for president at all. She not really a GOV ,because you have to finish a term to be call a GOV. SHE QUIT and no body like a QUITTER. Plus all she does Is spread Hate and she the most RACIST reason i ever seen. This woman shouldn't even be a dog catcher ,because the dog would out smart her. And be sides that I don't think America should become the World happening stock. They sure Isn't that many people In America that think this woman Is QUALIFIED to be President.