January 20th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
15 years ago

McCain gets big win, but questions remain

Watch McCain's victory speech in South Carolina (Photo Credit: AP)

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain gained an important victory Saturday in the South Carolina Republican primary, but exit polls indicate he made few inroads into the conservative heart of the Republican Party.

The results leave the race for the party's presidential nomination wide open going into the January 29 primary in Florida and the "Super Tuesday" contests beyond.

"I just would have to regard this as a good night for McCain, with some significant concerns when you get into the weeds," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg told CNN.

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Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. tlnacarthur

    John McCain altered the law so Viacom could purchase CBS. That way, Viacom could make more money and have more ability to censor what we see and hear and read. These politicians want the people to be distracted so they don't notice what's REALLY going on in the background.

    People, mainstream media is not objective at all. Wake up, please.

    January 20, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Jenny, Paxton, MA

    yeah, he's a genuine warmonger, unlike Bush who is a lying warmonger. somehow that doesn't give me any more comfort.....

    January 20, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. K. Wilkinson

    Why on earth would anyone vote for John McCain? He touts his military experience while he cozies up to the likes of Kennedy working to give the country away to 20 million illegals. I will never vote for McCain!

    He does not have the support of the Republican party because he is not Republican!

    Vote Mitt Romney for a new Washington!

    January 20, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Jenny, Paxton, MA

    Wilkinson, you got it all mixed up, dude.

    Your New Corporate Washington loves exploiting illigal aliens. and Mitt is their poster boy. Get your head out of your ..... you know the rest.

    January 20, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. arfisher, Midlothian, VA


    I once read that President John F. Kennedy was conducting a press conference and discussing his position on an issue. When he was finished, a reporter pointed out that the president's stance appeared to be the exact opposite of his previously stated position on the matter, to which Kennedy replied, "Yes, I've changed my mind."
    In today's political climate, many would have slammed Kennedy for being a "flip-flopper."

    It seems reasonable to believe that political leaders of any stripe better serve their constituents when they allow changing circumstances, more information, and better insights to move them toward positions contrary to ones they may have previously espoused. Do we really want elected officials who never change their minds, rigidly ignoring new circumstances and more realistic options? Or are we wiser to prefer individuals who are willing to learn, adapt, and adjust?

    Personally, I admire any person mature enough to reconsider a matter with serious reflection and then adopt a different course of action. The presidential candidates need to quit clubbing each other with "flip-flopper" accusations. Some of us find flexibility to be quite a valuable character trait.

    L.D. Ellison. VA

    January 20, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. ronnie knoxville tn

    yeah ! the questions that remain are who in their right mind would vote for McCain if they're a conservative because he is NOT one

    January 20, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Rose

    I am reading a lot of negative comments about John McCain but of ALL of the candidates he is the only one that I would want as commander in chief, no other candidate is even talking about what they would do to protect this country from further attacks. How often did Bill Clinton say we will hunt them down and bring them to justice and then did nothing? My grandson is a Marine and just completed his first tour of duty in Iraq and was involved in daily combat missions. He said maybe we should not be in Iraq but we are there now and we have to finish the job. He then added that if Iran gets involved he would reinlist in a hearbeat. I don't like the fact that my grandson will return for his second tour in Iraq in a few months but I am proud of what he is doing and what he has done. We should not ignore the economy issues but we should not forget that if we get hit again, the economy will only get worse.

    January 20, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. Hillary HATES CATS

    Rambo McCain maybe an old Dinosuar but he he can still push the launch button for a Nuclear Attack.

    January 20, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Mike McKibben

    I am a Democrat in Florida, and I have not voted for a Republican for President since Reagan's 1st term (I didn't vote for him on his 2nd). If it comes down to Clinton and McCain in the general election, I'll be voting for McCain. If Giuliani or Romney is my choice on the Republican side, I will vote for a Democrat. We don't need 4 more years of Bush under any guise. Where I don't agree with McCain on some issues, I respect his service, and he is a patriot. Sorry Rudy, but I judge people by the friends they keep. Your friends have been arrested in South Carolina for selling cocaine, your best buddy has been indited on 16 counts of federal charges, and your other buddy was part of the "dial a prostitute" scandal. You represent just 4 more years of Bush, and the average American in this country can't afford that.

    January 20, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Lilarose

    So, Mike McKibben, you are saying that you will support the continuation of the two wars we are currently in? Into the next generation of unborns? It could happen.

    That is what McCain wants.

    Why not judge people (and presidential hopefuls) by what attributes they have to help America? All those social concerns you have won't help much when dealing with world leaders.

    January 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Kay

    Sorry, John. You have my utmost respect, but I could never vote for you. Amnesty for illegal immigration and against border protection...you could never have my support. Any self-respecting Republican would die before giving this country back to Mexico!

    CNN will you leave this in this time?

    January 20, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Hillphil

    I am a lifelong Republican and I will not vote Democrat if McCain gets the nomination. This country is almost gone anyway.

    January 20, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. Hillphil

    am a lifelong Republican and I will not vote Republican if McCain gets the nomination. This country is almost gone anyway.

    January 20, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  14. Jenny, Paxton, MA

    mike mckibben of florida,

    check out Mccains's friends, since you go by the friends a candidate keeps. google keating 5.

    by the way, mccain counts GWBush as one of his new found friends. does a new friend for political expediency count?

    January 20, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. Chris in Silicon Valley

    If McCain is winning due to broad support (as opposed to GOP core), that actually means he is a more viable candidate in Nov. against Dems.

    January 20, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Kathy, San Luis Obispo CA

    McCain is from another era, another time. The guy grew up in Vietnam and the Cold War. Wonderful to have national security experience in those areas! The world has changed – and McCain has not changed with it. The best national security measures reside in the economy. A strong US economy is its best defense against any foreign aggression. Romney is much more a product of the present than is McCain.

    January 20, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. Tom Wittmann

    It seems that too much is seen both on Romneys and Huckabee win.

    The relatively small wins of Romney in Muchigan, where he was the Native son, nor in Nevada, where there are many Mormons, In the future he will neither have such handicaps nor enough money for such costly campaigns, the results: see South Carolina.

    As for Huckabee, he knows very well that he has litle chance in the large states

    Being intelligent enough to realize this, he will continue his campaign to make himself
    more known nationwide, and then endorse McCain, not because he coincides
    with many of his positions, but because he respects him and know that this
    is the only republican candiadte who will win agains Clinton or Obama. Something the fanatic conservatives are not clever enough enough to realize.

    January 20, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Tim / Maine

    I served in the Marine corps, I would not want McCain for a comander and chief. sorry but he is damaged goods and needs to check into some VA benifits.

    January 20, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  19. Mark, Tampa, FL

    McCain disgusts me. He is thoroughly a pro-war liberal. He lacks the temperament to be a leader. He campaigns as a "straight-talker", but has flip-flopped more than anyone- on tax cuts, on illegal immigration, on the war, the list goes on. Check out http://therealmccain.com/

    Romney is the only real conservative.

    January 20, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. Bo

    i think it's sad how, apparently, the repub's "party's base" is just a bunch of religious nuts. i like john mccain becasue he doesn't pander to ANYONE – he does what is right and what he thinks is best for EVERYONE not just his party's "base" and not just to get votes.

    do think that it was just a coincidence that huck declared that we re-write our constitutional according to the "word of god" two days before the sc primary? wow...if that's all it takes to get you people's votes, then i should run for president! i can say anything you want to hear anytime of the day. you people can't handle a straight talker – you'd rather someone lie to you and tell you what you want to hear becasue you're so narrow-minded and resistant to anything outside of your little box.

    it's people like you that cause politicians to have to lie and pander to us. you're so thick and all you care about is yourselves – not what's best for everyone or the country.

    mcccain's a conservative in many aspects; just because he isn't standing on a soap box pandering to the religious rights does not make him any less of a republican, just a decent, sensible one. i'm an independent and i consider myself a social liberal (live and let live) but a fiscal conservative and mccain to me is the best of both worlds. he still has morals but is also sensible and realistic.

    for all of you who say that he's not a real republican, where are you getting this from? he IS the defintion of a conservative – which means a hands-off government. your other candidates are the ones who are obseesed with controlling people's personal lives and want to pass constitutional amendments on everything under the sun. since when was immigration policy determined to be a party issue?

    you people are so narrow-minded you take one or two issue and label the man a liberal – illegals were not going to get amnesty you idiots! and where are these illegals now? they're in our country, with no one even knowing who they are, where they are, not paying taxes, and sucking up our social services. if you let them report that they are here, we could tax them, keep track of them, they wouldn't fear coming forward as victims or witnesses to crime, we could find and deport the ones who have committed crimes, and they'd be responsible for their own mecial bills because we'd know who they are, where they live, where they work, etc. but oh no, let's NOT do the SENSIBLE thing, let's be a bunch of moronic, irrational, idiots. we'd also being fining them ($5000-$8000 for all you "small fine" people) so they'd have to pay their own way into the country, unlike current INS rules where it's all paid for by the taxpayer. what is your solution? something had to be done and you people missed the boat.

    and god forbid he work with other members of congress!!! even though his record is clearly, consistently conservative. the only way to get anything accomplished is through cooperation with both parties – hello people!!!!! what planets are you living on?

    "oh no – he didn't originally support bush's tax cuts – he's not one of us!" first of all, you can't cut taxes without cutting spending, otherwise you just build up debt that has to be paid back with interest. hence, he is the real conservative becasue not creating debt saves money. your mr. bush has only given you tax cuts at the expense of our national debt and has done absolutely nothing to correct wasteful spending, including the $150 million bonus the fed gave to his buddy Halliburton for "a job well-done."

    as for you "war-monger" people – the president is our COMMANDER IN CHIEF just in case you forgot – and a lot of dems, such as clinton, voted for the war so what are you crying about? also, mccain was the ONLY one who had it right at the very get-go; if he had been president, the war would have been mission accomplished YEARS ago instead of the mess it is now. at least with mccain, if we had to go to war, it'd be done right. you only have yourselves to blame for electing the dumbest, most worthless president of all time, and his mess of an administration.

    STOP VOTING FOR YOUR FALSE "FAMILY VALUES" AND MAYBE WE CAN ACTUALLY GET SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED IN THIS COUNTRY. the president is not a legislator – go write your senator and other representatives if you care soooooo much about what other people do with their lives and bodies. the last values guy you voted for massacred thousands of innocent iraqis. good going, "values" voters.

    we're voting for a president for goodness sake, not a moral authority. if you need a moral authority, go to church and shut up already. they should rename the republican party the "holier than thou" party.

    traditionally, i've voted democratic, but if mccain gets the nomination i am serioulsy considering voting for him, as i'm sure a lot of other independents are. it’s either him or phony baloney clinton.

    January 20, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. David....Nevada

    McCain is a gloating toad. I sure hope he enjoyed that severe beating we gave him here in nv. Independents can't save him any longer and any true conservative knows he cant be trusted.. He's says he intends to secure the border then afterwards provide amnesty to all illegals already here. I guess ted kennedy says jump, and McCain says "how high"?

    Romney for responsible immigration and economics..

    January 20, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  22. Steve Johnson

    I have been saying this all along. McCain is an OK guy, a bit on the side of the hypocrites, but nice nonetheless; however, the guys is simply too old, we need new blood at the White House. He's been in congress for over 25 years, and he HAS CHANGED ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. He knows about foreign relations? really? what has he done in that realm? The surge was not his idea, it was the military's idea, and it was actually an idea that had been put on the table since the beginning. He's more of a democrat and a republican, so what does he really have to offer the American people, even with his credentials?

    I respect him as a human being; however, those who call him a hero, are simply wrong. Hero is the guy who took care of him, those who saved him. McCain was a good soldier that served his country, like many thousands of other soldiers. But he got caught and captured. That doesn't qualify him to be president. I want someone with true business experience, who is not looking forward to the paycheck, but who is truly qualified to run the country as he would a successful company. So far, I don't see any other candidate better than Romney, maybe Bloomberg if he decides to run, but other than that, Romney is my choice.

    January 20, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. ali orem ut.

    If given the choice between hillary and John mccain, my vote goes to mccain not only for his service to our country, but because unlike the Clintons with their scandal upon scandal upon scandal, john has kept himself scandal-free . That speaks of an honest man.

    January 20, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. Richard


    I also served in Iraq like your grandson, but you dont understand there is no 'finishing the job'... there is no end in sight over there. we are only standing in the way of a civil war than was supposed to happen a while ago. we need to downsize in iraq and send most of the ground forces home. let the iraqis fight their own battles and defend their own country.

    – mc cain wants to continue the bush strategy, unfortunately he is dead wrong.

    January 20, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Dave, Tallahassee

    I have been a Republican since 1980, but many of the Republicans posting here make me embarrassed to admit it. John McCain has more courage and honor that all the other Rep. and Dem. candidates combined. I wonder how Romney, Huckabee, Guiliani, and the others would have fared in the Hanoi Hilton?

    Why do so many of you trash a guy that fought for his country and underwent a POW experience that I doubt any of you could even comprehend? And if you look at his overall record, as opposed to just McCain-Feingold and a few other issues, he is more conservative than many in Washington. If you disagree with McCain's ideas, fine, don't vote for him. But can't you be respectful to a great patriot and criticize him in civil way?
    The Republican Party party "base" has become close minded and just plain ignorant. What a sad and pathetic situation. And to think the Republican Party was once the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.

    January 20, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
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