January 20th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain brushes aside suggestion of weak Republican support

(CNN) - John McCain Sunday brushed aside suggestions exit polls from the South Carolina Republican primary suggest he still is failing to garner widespread support from his party's base.

"I got more votes than anybody else, and it says that I got it from across the spectrum from all over the state," McCain told CNN's Dana Bash. "We expected this to be a very highly contested race, and for the 28 years the candidate who has won South Carolina has been the nominee of the party."

The Arizona senator edged out Mike Huckabee Saturday night in the first Southern primary of the race, 33 percent to 30 percent. But according to exit polling, McCain narrowly trailed Huckabee in support from the 80 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Huckabee won 32 percent of their support compared to McCain's 31 percent. (McCain overwhelmingly won among the remaining 20 percent of primary voters who identified themselves as independents.)

McCain has long had difficulty currying favor from his party's conservative wing. Despite his solid voting record in the senate, many ardent Republicans have been unhappy with his past willingness to team up with liberal Sens. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform and Ted Kennedy on immigration. McCain drew only 26 percent of the conservative vote in South Carolina Saturday.

Support from the base will be crucial in upcoming contests: McCain now faces a bevy of state primaries where independents are not allowed to participate, beginning with Florida’s vote on January 29. But the Arizona senator is predicting that his support among veterans, his economic proposals, and his record on environmental issues important to many Floridians will carry him to victory there.

Related video: Watch Dana Bash's interview with Sen. McCain

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: John McCain • South Carolina primary
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Tom J.

    yeah, you're right, McCain can work with the Democrativ Party, it's too bad the old goat can't work with HIS OWN PARTY.
    With him as the nominee, say hello to President Clinton.

    January 20, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. Joe1981

    Amazing, McCain is touted as the front runner and he can't even get a majority of his own party to vote for him.
    I can see all these voters storming off to the polls in November to vote for him....yeah right.

    January 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  3. Romney

    I like Romney... Economy is at the forefront for me. I also looked at his foreign policy position. I like him best... social issues are not at the forefront for me in the election. I like his record, experience and successful.

    January 20, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  4. Marti, San Diego CA

    Of course he brushed aside those suggestions, BECAUSE THEY'RE TRUE! The Straight Talk Express ran over him with those statements and he'd like to act as if nothing happened.

    Conservatives haven't voted for McAmnesty in a single state yet.

    This garbage that McAmnesty is the only won who can win in Nov is utter rubbish. He can't excite, much less unify and rally, his own party. They don't trust him…and for good reason. On too many occasions McAmnesty has snubbed his nose at Republican values and Republicans themselves. Why? Because he doesn't truly believe in Republican values. He likes being the "maverick". No thanks. I'd like somebody I can count on.

    January 20, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  5. Scott

    I've been a supporter of McCain for years. Romney and Huckabee make Bush look like a moderate and the last thing this country needs is a president who will keep things divided. The White House needs someone who will work with both parties. I LOVE the fact that Independants and Liberals would vote for McCain. Would you rather they voted for Obama or Clinton?? Look at how popular Schwarzenegger is in California, he works with both parties and he gets results.

    I am a Republican, and I hope the GOP is smart enough to nominate McCain. He's really the only chance we have to keep our party in the White House. Huckabee and Romney would get obliterated by either Obama or Clinton!

    January 20, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. Jerad

    There is not much left to say. McCain is too old and way too liberal. He's not a real conservative. Huckabee is a joke and can't last outside the bible-belt. I guess it's up to the guy with the most wins, most total votes, most money raised, and the most delegates.

    MITT ROMNEY 2008!!!

    January 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. Ron

    Chuck "I'm for a loser" Norris said McCain was to old for the presidency.
    That McCain would die of old age before his term was up.
    It was a mean thing to say, and Chuckie should apologize to McCain.
    I'm NOT voting for McCain for a lot of other reasons.
    Romney is the true Republican frontrunner! Look at the delegate count!

    January 20, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  8. Porter

    A pseudo-republican like McCain's probably the best the Republicans can do. Have you seen the polls for Clinton/Obama v. ANYONE BUT MCCAIN!? Disastrous.

    Random note: I like McCain's corporate-style logo.

    January 20, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  9. Jonathan

    McCain is not only the only republican candidate who has a good shot at beating a democrat in the general election, but also one of the only candidates who could actually get many of his plans carried out because of his ability to work across party lines. I don't care if you don't agree with the democratic party's platform (I often don't), but it's a political reality that to get things done it's a good idea to reach out across party lines.

    McCain also seems sincere to me, not simply saying things to get votes. The only other candidate who has this trait (and more so) is Ron Paul who is (unfortunately) a long shot. I predict a McCain/Huckabee ticket that will probably do well in the general election.

    January 20, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  10. Jonathan

    Oh, and though McCain is in support of the war (I am NOT), I think he would be slower than most other republican candidates to start a new war (say, with Iran) because he more than anyone else realizes the pains of war, by being a POW himself.

    January 20, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  11. Stan Bednarz

    Im tired of people in the Republican party thinking that we have to have the person of great fortune to show us how to run the country. it is time we had a person who is humble, honest in character who knows how to govern as a true compassionate conservative, instead of a darling of the CEO's.

    Why not Huckabee? Why not not be the party of Lincoln? We just might find our soul.

    January 21, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  12. TB

    John McCain is not a Republican. He has bucked Republican principles for decades. He favors amnesty for illegals (co-sponsoring a bill with is buddy Ted Kennedy) and opposes the Bush tax cuts. He has Joe Lieberman on the stump for him (Al Gore's running mate). Forget McCain. He is not a republican and not a conservative. Maybe he could be Obama's running mate.

    January 21, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. DCB

    Hey ym763,

    I agree with your opinions and admire your honesty. I am a liberal but you and I could work together. Of course, you (and probably I too) would be declared a traitor.

    The damage done to your party and the country as a whole will take a long time to fix. No other way around it - it is going to take COMPROMISE, RESPECT, and TRUST to get it fixed. I'm game if you are. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    And to those who naively believe that compromise is a recent evil creation - get real. Compromise is a natural and healthy result of the checks and balances built into our system. It's been practiced beneficially since at least Ben Franklin's day. It is meant to keep any one party from becoming too powerful and...oh, I dunno...invading the wrong country, threatening a "nuclear option" to change Congressional rules, spending money like a drunk coed....

    The GOP just lost the whole Congress. You really think they have a shot at the White House? You really want the Dems coming at you with the tactics and anger you've been dishing out for more than a decade? I thought not. I don't want that either.

    Turn off your hate radio, GOP, and join ym763 and me as we sort this thing out.

    January 21, 2008 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  14. Dan

    If Republicans don't get behind McCain, then they will lose this election.

    Check the polls. He is the only one who beats his Democratic opposition.

    January 21, 2008 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  15. Mike VE

    I am voting for MITT ROMNEY!!!!!

    Mitt has not been in Washington for years like John McLaim, Clinton and Obama.

    Mitt has held executive positions as a Govenor and in private business, Obama, Clinton and John McLaim have only worked in Washington they do not have a clue about private business or the American economy.

    Mitt is a conservative that’s why the media hates him; John McLaim is a liberal just look who he associates with Kennedy, Feingold, the gang of 14, ect. and that’s why the media loves John McLaim.

    Mitt is against amnesty for illegal aliens; Obama, Clinton and John McLaim are for amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Mitt is for tax cuts, Obama, Clinton and John McLaim are against tax cuts and want to raise our taxes.

    Mitt is for conservative judges, Obama, Clinton and John McLaim are for liberal judges.

    Mitt wants to free Americans and American business from the federal government Obama, Clinton and John McLaim want big government and are responsible for big government we have.

    Mitt will fight to protect this country and build a strong military; Obama, Clinton and John McLaim stood by when al-Qaeda attacked our interests in the 1990 and the 1980s.

    Mitt Romney is the right change for America

    Vote for Mitt!!!

    January 21, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  16. Vote Democrat

    As a democrat I have to say that McCain is the one republican that we fear – if Romney is your candidadte you can say goodbye to the presidency.

    January 21, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  17. Heather, Chicago IL

    wow, John can afford a website again? For a while there he couldn't even afford a campaign staff or gas for his tour bus! Good thing he got all of that free media exposure. I voted for McCain in 2000 but that was a huge mistake...Mr. McCain's time has come and gone and voting for him only means you are voting for the next draft and willing to completely bankrupt the country to boot. Don't waste your vote on him again, if you are thinking about it!

    January 21, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  18. Aaron, Sterling VA

    In case you missed it, Ron Paul came in 2nd in Nevada.

    January 21, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  19. HH, Pittsburgh, PA

    So McCain was a prisoner during the Vietnam War. He deserves a salute on Veteran's Day, but that doesn't mean that he deserves to have the Presidency handed to him on a golden platter.

    He says he is willing for the US to stay in Iraq for 100 years. He irresponsibly said "Bomb bomb bomb Iran," so I suppose his election to the Presidency will bring on the draft. Unless, of course, he intends to use the exhausted, overburdened troops that have already done their duty, and then some.

    He wants amnesty for illegal immigrants. Too bad he doesn't want amnesty for the 2 million American citizens in prison, many of whom are in there for nonviolent "crimes." But I guess, in his mind, sneaking into the country without a security or medical check automatically means you're a better person than a citizen smoking the wrong weed. So much for the war on terrorism.

    He is said to be a man of integrity, although he tossed aside his long-suffering first wife for a trophy bride, and although he was a member of the Keating Five.

    There are too many "althoughs and unlesses." I won't be voting for him.

    January 21, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. David....Nevada

    Old "straight talk" sounds alot like BS.. I'm one viet vet who can't stand his placating of kennedy and mexico's calderon. Where did the vc put that mans huevos after they whacked em? Frankly, he needs to get em back and quit pandering to the liberals and mexican congress..
    He certainly deserved the thrashing our state gave the man..

    January 21, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Surrealist, FT Myers, FL

    McCain could be the best weapon in 2008 for the GOP.

    People who support John Edwards are mostly conservative-thinking democrats and independents.

    With the possibility shrinking that Edwards will be at the top of the Democratic ticket in favor of the more liberal factions overwhelmingly supporting Obama and Clinton–this will leave a lot of people who really don't have a candidate to support who will be looking for the next best option.

    Bingo...John McCain. Honest, reliable, center-focused with conservative values that consistently pulls in conservative Democrats and millions of Independents–let's not forget what happend to Kerry in 2004. Those very Democrats and Independents voted for Bush rather than have a "Kerry" as President.

    McCain–will emerge as the only alternative to Obama and Hillary for thousands of John Edwards supporters.

    January 21, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. JT

    McCain is just another Sr Senator war veteran who has no winning ideas like Bob Dole was a sr senator war vet in 1996. Obama/Oprah or the Clintons would have a very big victory against McCain just like Slick did against Dole back in 96.

    Now that the news is out that Rudy is low on money, Mitt is the only candidate that can go the distance and win in November. If the people of Florida do not wake up and give Mitt a win that would make the dems and the media very happy indeed. A vote for McCain or the Huckster is a vote for the Democrats and economic & international failure.

    Rasmussen's poll just released will not be in the news today!
    Romney – 25
    McCain – 20
    Rudy – 19

    January 21, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Val Davydov, MA

    I must be on to something since CNN has refuses to post my comments.

    I am a Republican and will NEVER VOTE for McCain – he has a full wagon of baggage that Republicans are concerned about (his opposition to marriage amendement, Gange of 14, McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill, McCain-Kennedy amnesty immigration bill, and his opposition to Bush tax cuts).

    I do admire him for his service to our country – he is a true hero, but this doesn't mean he is that true leader America needs at the time of economic instability.

    Keep in mind McCain appeals mostly to independents, which means that his win in general is very questionable since independents will more than likely vote for a democrat in general.

    Romney 08! Romney all the way!

    January 21, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Johnny P.

    If anybody here really thinks John McCain is a "democrat", well, you must be a fascist. I'm serious, you've got to be so far to the right that you're not anywhere near the political mainstream of this country. In other words, as far gone as as communists on the other side.

    Do a little research before you shoot your mouths off. Irrespective of who you vote for, make it a well considered and factual vote. And if you're a fascist, recognize that you are and don't hide behind the "true conservative" label. Fascists are people too! lol

    January 21, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Anna in Iowa.

    My family grew up poor but with large aspirations and the attitude that you can be anything you want to be in this country. I come from a family of democrats. They are extremely compassionate people.

    Look, I am republican because I don't like big government. I believe in accountability. I grew up seeing Welfare trap you into poverty. I also saw many people either make the same in a job or less. I knew I would right away that was never going to be as an adult.

    People complain about Health care and about people that don't have it. Health care is hurting the middle income families the most. When we lived in Ohio (area we lived in was largely populated with people without insurance), I found out that we pay slightly more out of pocket than people WITHOUT insurance. It would have better if we didn't have insurance at ALL.

    I am really considered about the economy and the housing market. We move a lot for jobs and will have to sell our house this year.

    Sure, do I think McCain will play nice with democrats BUT this is not what it is about. Its about both parties working out issues in congress that represent both sides, Republicans and Democrats.

    I don't want McCain because I want my issues represented. It is not a compromise on both sides if you have McCain pushing for issues that not even in his party.

    The polls don't mean squat. Just look at the polls for Nevada? They got the winner right but had McCain trailing pretty close to Romney.

    I have checked everybody on the issues.... sorry I like Romney best. I guess we will have to see what happens in Florida.

    Romney 08'

    January 21, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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