(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.
I mean "UN-electable".
To jb1963 who said "He proves everyday that the people of Arizona are clueless." I just want to mention that not all of us are clueless and it's depressing living in a place where there are so many idiots.
Really John????? I think dementia is setting in and it is time for you to pull up a rocking chair and retire. I thought you were smarter than this........you are more of an idiot than Sarah Palin.
Palin is an embarrassment to the human race. I think that she knows she cannot win, but is happy to take money from the GOP suckers who support her to live a lavish life style. She is a paranoid disgusting being. We will never forgive McCain for unleashing her on the world.
She can't be elected because there's no way she can fit her entire inaugural address on her hand. Plus she'd probably quit anyway.
Isn't America grateful this dolt was not elected?
I sincerely hope she runs... I need some comedy in my life right now.
Considering that McCain thought that HE would beat Obama 2 years ago, I would consider the source!
When is he going to apologize for setting this Mama grizzly bear loose on the american public?
Of course he has to say Sarah can beat Obama. It's either that or own the fact that he unleashed a complete idiot on the American political scene, and as we all know; it takes one to know one!
There is no reason whatsoever to accept John McCain's judgment regarding anything. He's a political dinosaur who tanked his own candidacy by choosing the Mayor of Wasilla as his running mate. She's proven herself to be a Charlatan, and he a deluded old politician.
Lol. Mccain is DESPERATELY trying to save face by suggesting that the unqualified, ethically-challenged airhead that he dangerously subjected our nation to by putting palin a heartbeat away from he presidency, could become president. Sorry, mccain. The voters already said NO to palin in 2008. Palin is still utterly hateful with obvious deficiencies thus we the voters wil say NO to her again in 2012. You can take that to the bank.
Political parties only hurt themselves on who they nominate and have no one else to blame except the party. Example: Democrats nominate goofball John Kerry which gives GWB a second term. The Republicans nominate John McCain (big mistake) and give Obama a win. If the Republicans Nominate Palin, that will be a reelection victory for Obama. I've been studying Presidential politics since 1964 and have been right each time 100%. I know who the wrong ones are and the right ones.
Poor McCain is as delusional as Caribou Barbie. And he is too much of a gentleman to ever admit he made a mistake with her on his Presidential ticket.
John McCain's Dementia is finally is coming to surface.
Even though I didn't vote for McCain (because of Palin), I still had tremendous amount of respect for him. But now? ugh... why do you keep shooting yourself in the foot for Palin?! C'mon John McCain, get with it!
Just shows how out of touch McCain is with reality..
McCain didn't do his homework when he picked Palin to run with him 2 and a half years ago and he still is not doing his due dilligence today!
I would crawl through broken glass to vote for anyone opposing that political disaster foisted upon the country by John McCain. His legacy will forever be tainted by this cynical misdeed. (and the numerous planes he crashed)
Is it any wonder that we're in the toilet . If these yo-yo's would spend half the time they spend glad-handing each other running the country , we might not be in the fix we are . . . . On the other hand , listening to what they say . . . .
This poor guy has early Alzheimers if he thinks Palin could be president. Listen to how she talks! She sounds like a 14 year old talking about her dates..."you betcha", "hows that workin for ya"...Puh leaze...can you imagine her on the national or international stage? Bush was an embarrassment enough, but Palin would take the cake...Poor McCain...he has been in that Arizona sun too long...even his head looks lopsided of late...I think he is quite ill....
Poor man he must be getting senile. Time to retire. If he makes "those" kinds of decision just think what he would do for decisions on the country.
"I've never seen anyone as mercilessly attacked and relentlessly attacked as I have seen Sarah Palin in the last couple of years,"...seems whenever Palin is mentioned these days this is the narrative the Right likes to put forth.....McCain, you're getting old and forgetful so let me help you with this one, yes you have seen someone attacked even more relentlessly, he happens to be the President...and btw Palin is attacked for the stupid things that come out of her mouth...self inflicted wounds
Did someone forget to tell him that she pretty much single handedly cost HIM the election?
McCain was taking one for the country. He knew that his party could not fix the mess that Bush was leaving behind. The economy was tanking even though Bush had already cut taxes, so there was nothing left in the Republican toolbox. Banning abortion and gay marriage wouldn't do anything for the economy, and running against immigration or shutting down the government wouldn't work with a Republican president. So he picked Palin. He was telling the voters that Democrats had to take over.