(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 just love listening to you librals whine when ever Our Lady of the Tundra is mentioned. you want her to go away but you just can't to keep her out of the spotlight. As for John McCain, he may be old, even approaching senile, but he is right! PALIN WILL BEAT OBAMA! So live with it. He's dug his own very deep hole and he's not interested in getting out. Change I can believe in? Yeah, right here in my pocket next to my car keys!
Yeah, she was "mercilessly attacked" by the media quoting her exact words... in context!
She's a brainless repeater of talking points and anyone with 1/2 a brain knows it.
And she's a quitter. Jeez, nuff said.
It finally happened...McCain has gone senile...
She's a loose cannon.
Ok, McCain has a brown nose people. Just look at Alaska people. Her endorsement candidate in Alaska could not be a write in candidate so America will vote for Palin. McCain is becoming a joke. He lost because of Plain. Does he understand people did not vote for him for President because of Palin?
John "McSame" McCain is as clueless today as his was when he picked the dim-bat Palin for his running mate.
Has McSame looked at polls lately? Almost 75% of Americans consider Sarah Palin as completely totally unqualified to be President.
Palin recently made a comment that "Washington and Lincoln" were some of the "Founding Fathers and Republicans" of our country.
Fact – Washington hated political parties and warned about the formation about parties and what they would do to our government. Founding Republican – NO!!
Fact – Lincoln was President almost 100 years after our country was established. Founding Father – NO!! In fact, contrary to Palin's flawed memory on history, Lincoln was a centrist Republican despised by the far right GOP because he believed in fair treatment for all and individual rights.
McCain still proves he is out of touch with America. Clueless would be the word.
McCain has gone bye bye. The senility has completely consumed the poor guy.
John McCain, you are as delusional as Palin is.
I don't know what McCain is smoking but I'll bet it's illegal!
John, You know you made a mistake, now its time to admit it and move on. Don't make the same mistake twice.
The reason McCain lost is beacuse the people of the USA were terrified of Palin as the default POTUS
McCain needs to go home sit in his rocker and forget about politics. He lost any credibility after picking Palin as his running mate.
Is it the senility, the onset of Alzheimer's, or just plain hypocrisy?
Palin will not get the GOP nomination and who would be her vice president? People are staying away from her she is too combative.
This man brains are gets worse and worse with age.
Just when you thought McCain was leaning toward rational thought he blurts out fox talking point nonsense – and he's back to typical McCain.
LMAO!!!! The day she beat obama, and become this country is going to erupt in anarchy and dismay
A big thank you to McCain for polluting the world's lives with the Palin brood. McCain and Palin will forever be the biggest joke in American politics.
McLame made a foolish, selfish decision when he selected this twit to be his running mate. He owes the country an apology for subjecting it to this national embarrassment.
McCain has lost it. He has always shown himself to be more intelligent than this. Maybe the effects of Vietnam have crept in. I think he should retire before he really makes a super fool of himself.
I think John McCain is showing signs of cognitive dysfunction. Seriously. He's never seen anyone take as many attacks as Palin has from the media? Has he not noticed the Obama as Hitler signs? The constant harassment about birth certificates? Members of congress standing up and screaming slurs at him? I'd like to see Palin take such punishment with one tenth of the grace that Obama has shown. She's an immature loudmmouth whose feet need to be put to the fire to show what she's really made of. And what it is is not worthy of even being considered for the Presidency.
John McCain has obviously lost all touch with reality if he honestly thinks Sarah Palin can defeat Obama. The majority of people in this country are too smart to ever elect Palin to be President, unlike those in Arizona who keep putting McCain back in office.
If it wasn't so pathetic this would be laughable. Sarah Palin is in no way qualified to be POTUS, not now, not ever. No experience in foreign policy (I can look across to Canada, does that make me an expert on them?), no concept of current events (can she even name the publications she reads?), no solutions to the problems she says exist in our great nation today. No substance to her, all talk. I want a President with solutions to the problems, proven diplomacy abilities, the abiity to unite our country into working together.
I also want a President who will complete his term. Sarah bailed on her committment as Governer of Alaska when things got tough or she didn't want the job any longer. What happens should she get elected and then decide the job is too tough/difficult/boring/whatever? She just bails?
Does Palin have any of the attributed I want in POTUS. Send her back home – whether to Alaska or Arizona.