November 12th, 2007
07:19 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain vows to repeat Reagan's success

John McCain received standing ovations at several Veterans Day events on Sunday and Monday.

BEAUFORT, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. John McCain told supporters in South Carolina on Monday that if elected president he would lead America out of its "tough times" in the same way President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

"I'd remind you, and there's a few of us old geezers around here who knew what it was like the last time we lost a war," the Arizona Republican said, referring to the war in Vietnam. "We lost it not because of our courage and bravery on the battlefield. It was because they won the war in the United States."

McCain, a decorated naval aviator, was campaigning in this coastal town that boasts a significant military population, on the day the nation observed Veteran's Day as a federal holiday.

"The fact is we had a dispirited nation," said McCain, who was shot down over Hanoi during a bombing mission and held as a POW by the North Vietnamese. "And out of California came a great leader, a great man who thought America's best days were ahead of us, who said 'Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,' who said, 'America is a shining City on a Hill.'”

McCain declared - as he does at most campaign stops - that "we are winning" in Iraq. He invoked Reagan's trademark optimism and said he would refuse to let the war efforts in Iraq succumb to domestic discontent, as was the case with the war in Vietnam.

"Every time I am around these brave young Marines, every time I am around these brave young Navy men and Army men and all of those people who are serving, I know that that feeling in America is wrong. Our best days are ahead of us," he said. "America is the greatest nation in the world. I am asking for your support in order to lead it."

McCain spent two days campaigning at Veterans Days events in South Carolina's Lowcountry, which is heavily populated by military veterans and their families. The Arizona senator, who marched in Veteran's Day Parade in Beaufort Monday, received hearty cheers and standing ovations at each event.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: John McCain • South Carolina
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Daniel, NY

    In good news for McCain, he is now tied for second in the Rasmussen national poll, going in front of Thompson for the first time in MONTHS! link.

    November 12, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. NE,PA


    war mongering

    well known temper

    weakness on illegals and our borders

    And his lack of spine when his family was bashed by Bush in 2000 will keep me from even considering him!

    November 12, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Only Pragmatic, Scottsdale, AZ

    Evidently Mr. McCain needs a history lesson refresher. Ronald Reagan ran up the national debt to record levels and did more to destroy the middle class in this country more than any president before him. He (McCain) is still caught up in the fantasy that Reagan did something productive for this country, but alas he is only buying into (and selling!) right wing propaganda.

    November 12, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  4. Carol Lipski SC

    What a country, they evem brag about adding to the debt for our grandchildren to try to pay off, there is not a republican I have heard that can add past ten without taking off their shoes.

    November 12, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. Tom Anaheim, CA

    It seems like everytime McCain opens his mouth he gives me less reasons to support him. Now he wants to be like Ron? Oh deary dear.

    November 12, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Jeremy, LA CA

    If McCain becomes president, I can imagine this applying to him. Except maybe the whiskey or cocaine...but his position on gay rights, his position on an unjust war, preference for war spending over solving our own domestic problems definitely matches...etc.

    "Dear Mr. President"
    (feat. Indigo Girls)

    Dear Mr. President,
    Come take a walk with me.
    Let's pretend we're just two people and
    You're not better than me.
    I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

    What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
    Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
    What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
    Are you proud?

    How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
    How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
    How do you walk with your head held high?
    Can you even look me in the eye
    And tell me why?

    Dear Mr. President,
    Were you a lonely boy?
    Are you a lonely boy?
    Are you a lonely boy?
    How can you say
    No child is left behind?
    We're not dumb and we're not blind.
    They're all sitting in your cells
    While you pave the road to hell.

    What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
    And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
    I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
    You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

    How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
    How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
    How do you walk with your head held high?
    Can you even look me in the eye?

    Let me tell you 'bout hard work
    Minimum wage with a baby on the way
    Let me tell you 'bout hard work
    Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
    Let me tell you 'bout hard work
    Building a bed out of a cardboard box
    Let me tell you 'bout hard work
    Hard work
    Hard work
    You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
    Hard work
    Hard work

    How do you sleep at night?
    How do you walk with your head held high?
    Dear Mr. President,
    You'd never take a walk with me.
    Would you?

    November 12, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. David, Dallas Tx

    ohn McCain told supporters in South Carolina on Monday that if elected president he would lead America out of its "tough times" in the same way President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

    You mean, slash taxes and increase spending, multiplying the national debt beyond anything any previous president in any party ever did?

    Been there, done that, have the deficits to prove it. Name's George Dubya.

    More of the same financial irresponsibility? No thanks.

    November 12, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. Ed, Detroit MI

    McCain's neck looks like it's about to burst underneath his suit. Someone needs to tell this old hoss it's time to head home to the pasture. Give it up, John. Loser couldn't win checkers if he tried. I think the most shocking aspect of John McCain is way he supported George Bush after George Bush derailed his campaign in 2000. If McCain can't stand up to that, what will he stand up for when he is president? If he can't stand up to a weasel like George Bush how can he take on terror?

    November 12, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  9. Jose Card, NY

    I may not agree with everything Senator McCain said, but I do remember his honorable services for our country on this Veteran's Day.

    November 12, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. Dave, Hawaii

    A question for Sen. McCain:

    The current administration that has deliberately chosen to ignore the will of the people (except for his rich cronies) at all levels, not just the war. Why on Earth would we vote for more of the same?

    November 12, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. Jaik , chicago, IL

    Wellactually the reason we lost Vietnam was because it was not a fight worth winning, the US under committed millitarally , because the fight was not worth a full commitment, and we lost. they kicked our asses. Reagan wasn't the president to follow Vietnam tho. That was Carter who brought us back together after the disaster the GOP chicken hawks created. It wasn't Reagan who won the cold war, it was Gorbechev who decided to end it, independantly and to the total suprise of the White House. Reagan was senile and afflicted with Alzheimers by then anyway. McCain can't win the nomination anymore becauuse he was seen as too "liberal" now he wants to play as an extremist right winger, it won't work for him.

    November 12, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. josh

    If by "success" he means senile dementia... then, yeah, I agree with that.

    November 12, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  13. Craig, Philly, pA

    What success. Ruining our economy.
    Selling weapons to our friend Iran.
    Calling Bin Laden a freedom fighter.

    Which of these does he consider a success.

    November 12, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |


    November 12, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  15. Matthew, Murfreesboro, TN

    Does this mean he wants to triple the national debt? Launch a useless star wars program? Support drug kingpins in South America? Help start another Al-Qaeda and Taliban government? Claim trees cause polution? Bring poverty back to the masses? Sell WMD's to the Iraqi's? Cause another Savings and Loan bailout? Have 225 of your administration staff either fired, arrested, indicted, or convicted on numerous charges? Use Superfund money to support other Republican Party? Support apartheid in South Africa? Get rid of funding for AIDS research? End the family farm? Proclaim that "facts are stupid things"?

    Are you going to claim that you do not remember anything when confronted about any of this?

    Oh and are you going to sell weapons to the Iranians?

    November 13, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  16. Andrew, NJ

    Does McCain Realize that Ronald Reagan pulled troops out of Middle East because he realized what a waste of effort it is to police that area?

    November 13, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Kristy Sanborn

    "I know that the feeling in America is wrong"
    If only Americans could comprehend these words spoken by a very wise man.

    November 13, 2007 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  18. Chris, Toledo, OH

    McCain is full of half truths and lies. Neither Vietnam nor Iraq were wars. They were improper uses of the military to police the world, not constitutionally declared wars. So it is impossible to lose a war that doesn't exist.
    It's like when McCain says we can't surrender. Surrendering means that you would be conquered by an invading force. Neither country has invaded the United States, and nothing they have done has ever jeopardized our sovereignity.
    Lastly, the Soviets did not fall because of our increased militarism against them. They fell because their political and economic system was insolvent, largely because of their militarism.
    And that is exactly how our involvement in Iraq will end. The United States government will no longer have the political and economic support to continue it.
    Kind of like how your campaign has felt for the last several months, McCain?

    November 13, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  19. MS Johnson City, TN

    We lost Viet Nam war because it was the wrong war. The French were smarter. That's why they quit while they were ahead.

    The proponents of Domino Theory are back in the saddle again and they have embarrassed our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as they did in Viet Nam. The world didn't turn communist after we left. Thirty years later, we are trading with Viet Nam.

    The sooner we come out of Iraq, the sooner we can start trading with them too.

    November 13, 2007 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  20. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Talk about a campaign promise he can't deliver!

    November 13, 2007 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  21. A Kansas Vet, Kansas

    John, Reagan's major success was that his spending bankrupted the Soviet Union before he bankrupted the US, thus acheiving victory over the hated USSR, and destabilizing the world for the next 100 years in the mean time.

    Now John, unlike Vietnam, the war in Iraq was won by the United States military in a matter of a few weeks. The Iraqi military was defeated, the government of Saddam fell, the nation fell under US control. Then Washington became involved, and has been trying to make out that the fighting that is on going in Iraq is a continuation of the war on terror. It is a continuation of a failed political plan, a failoure to capitolize on a great military victory and bring peace and stability to the region.

    In Vietnam, John, when we actually withdrew our combat forces, the South Vietnam government was in control of the South. They had firebases throughout the nation and were defending it against small forces as we had taught them. South Vietnam was secured. When South Vietnam fell, it fell to a conventional invasion conducted by the North, to included Armored formations. The South's army was not prepared to fight this type of war. However we had promised the South we would provide them support, we did not, no air support, no naval support, no ground support, we abandoned the South, let me restate that, our government abandoned the South.

    While I respect you time in service to our nation and the sacrafices you have made, your time is past. Retire have a good life.

    November 13, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Patrick, Denver Colorado

    I don't think most people that commented on here have the reading comprehension skills of a fifth grader. McCain was talking about Reagan's success as a military leader it had nothing to do with his economic policies. McCain was against the Bush tax cuts as first proposed. Your self imposed blindness to consider any leader from another party is a great example of everything that is wrong with our country. Do yourself a favor and take your blinders off.

    November 13, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. as, df, al

    McCain will create more deficit, borrow more money from social security fund, and raise more on social security tax so that he can cut more tax for the super rich people. That's what Reagan did to America.

    November 13, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Chet in Lake Havasu Arizona

    And don't forget Ron turned his back on his home state (CA) and allowed 4 million illegal immigrants to pour in from Mexico in a concerted effort to bust the trade unions primarily in construction. By refusing to secure the border, bolster Border Patrol and letting the initial 4 million enter unregulated those illegals have gone on to multiply into 8 million + and are now insisting on citizenship + other rights and privledges.
    I encourage anyone including McCain with a desire to fawn over Reagan to really study his legacy. They were a mess of an administration masked in the friendly face of an actor. Most of the Reagan era's sinister players are still in government.

    November 13, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |