April 22nd, 2008
06:05 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain insists he is neutral about Democratic nominee

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/22/art.mccainflage2.jpg
caption="John McCain said it's up to the Democrats to decide their nominee."]
(CNN) - Campaigning across the border in Ohio, John McCain insists he’s neutral about what happens in Pennsylvania’s primary and Democratic contests beyond.

“I have never stated whether I wanted this election to stretch out or not. That is up to the Democratic Party voters and I have nothing to do with that,” said McCain.

The Republican nominee in waiting said he doesn’t know whether the Democratic race helps or hurts him, saying he’s heard arguments for both.

But privately some of McCain’s advisers tell CNN they do have an opinion. They’re secretly rooting for a big Pennsylvania win for Hillary Clinton, because they’ve concluded the longer Democrats bruise each other in battle, the better it is for McCain.

They point to polls among Democratic voters showing the longer the bitter race goes on, the more each candidate’s supporters say they won’t vote for the other.

But while those McCain aides say they want Clinton to stay in the race for a while, they increasingly say they would rather not run against her.

Those in the McCain camp who say they think Clinton could be tougher to beat than Obama point to both the map, and the makeup of Clinton and Obama’s supporters.

When it comes to the map, some McCain advisers say they would likely lose the traditionally red state of Arkansas to Hillary Clinton, where she was first lady and polls well against McCain. If Obama is his opponent, McCain aides think their candidate would likely win Arkansas.

In terms of voters, McCain aides say if Obama is his opponent, it would be much easier to woo Clinton’s primary voters like conservative white working class Democrats.

They also argue that if McCain ran against Obama, he would have a leg up on the Democrat with many Hispanic voters, who have flocked to Clinton in many Democratic contests. McCain often notes how well he has done with Hispanic voters over the years in his home state of Arizona.

Regardless, McCain aides are devising two general election strategies, one against each Democratic candidate.

After all, if there is anyone who knows how quickly a candidate’s political fortunes can change, it’s John McCain

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Darth Vadik, CA

    He is the weakest Republican nominee in 50 years.

    Republicans should have picked Chuck Hagel, at least he is not insane.

    April 22, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Dirk Wigdoubt

    McCain is neutral on the democratic primaries because he can't remember who is running... maybe Joe Lieberman will have to remind him...

    April 22, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. TheLeftNut

    John McCain: "This is a democracy, I'm a democratic nominee too!".

    Cindy McCain: "Shutup."

    April 22, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Todd

    What a joke! McCain should shut up and jump on his old bus and tell old story about the old days and the old times Z Z z z zzzzzzzzzz.. Wake me when it's over.

    No counrty for old men 08!

    April 22, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. John McBush

    Vote for me and you get 8 more years of an incompetent elitist running the country into a ditch! Yeee HAWWW!!!!

    Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran!!!!

    April 22, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. TheRightNut

    John McCain is the best thing since American Idol!

    April 22, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. Chut Pata

    "some of McCain’s advisers tell CNN they do have an opinion. They’re secretly rooting for a big Pennsylvania win for Hillary Clinton"

    McBush/Billary '08

    April 22, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. Ross in MD

    Hillary Clinton has formed an unholy alliance with the neocons to bring down Obama. It won't work, regardless of what happens tonight.

    Obama 08

    April 22, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. Tony, MD

    I would be neutral about the train that's about to knock the Straight Talk Express off its track. What difference does it make who driving it, he will still be knocked off his tracks.

    America 08

    April 22, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Richard

    No doubt he wants Obama. Obama has no clue.

    April 22, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Who Cares?

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    April 22, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Grif

    Their Champion is ready!!! Bring it on, say's John...

    April 22, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Joe

    The Dems can nominate Mickey Mouse. He will still beat the war monger, self confessed economic novice McBush.

    April 22, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Grif

    John????????????? McCain???????????????//
    Democrat's?????????????????????? Contest in November?????? Somebody is still asleep...

    April 22, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. Herman LA, CA

    Who cares

    April 22, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. JAC

    McCain will just be another Republican, in a long list of weak, forgetful, dull and manipulable presidents that Republicans like. Do you really think this is Bush's war? Bush, as others before him, was manipulated by power brokers who are making huge profits while the average American weeps long into the night in the land who everyone expects something for nothing. McCain will give us that tired old argument about how liberal Democrats will "raise taxes". It will not work this time. Republicans will loose it all in the fall thanks to a very weak economy and an unpopular war. We need 100 years of peace, not war. Clinton or Obama would be wise to create a "Department of Peace" when they walk into the White House on Day 1.

    April 22, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Richard

    Clearly for those of us who stay informed by keeping up with the news. If a candidate for President really wanted True Change, they would push for each citizen to maximize their abilities and economical independence. Of course, most of Sen. Obama's backing comes from the least experienced with life, naive and/or gullible, and those who think they are above the rest by their mental aptitude (you are to be considered intelligent and bright if you are supporting his candidacy). They are living off of either parental support or loans, vote because their skin color matches his, or we have the so-called top educated who believe they have all the answers to tell others how to live. It only takes someone to work in the academia to see what a caste system it is, based on one's level of education. In other words, if you are not a PhD all other employees are lumped in together and separated from them either by way of benefits, opportunities, etc.

    It would be interesting to see how he attempts to change the political process. Is he going to openly denounce all Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, etc. who do not agree with him? Will they then have to endure what the ABC debate commentators have been exposed to the last few days? It is so ironic to see an individual who speaks of unity and prosperity for all Americans to have created such a divisive line amongst many. They are already bullying Sen. Clinton's supporters who refuse to support him as the presidential candidate as not being true Democrats. One can be a Democrat, and not believe in the individual who is selected by the party to be their candidate. That is called, "Freedom of Choice". Ooops, that might not be around for much longer. Get it done Hillary America has been waiting for a President like you....

    April 22, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. AZM

    They won't say it but they want Obama... at the rate he's shooting himself in the foot it will be a Reagan/Carter woopin before it's over...

    April 22, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  19. Dan from Boston

    It's probably just smart messaging on McCain's part to claim that he is neutral about the length of the Democratic primary battle. A drawn out fight is clearly to his advantage, as it polarizes the Democratic base and allows him time to galvanize his own. Additionally, he has the luxury of being able to start building his final run war chest now, whereas the Democratic nominee will have far less time to build theirs and will also have to spend time re-earning the support of roughly half their own party. McCain's also benefiting from being the only Republican in the media. My thinking is that about 1-2 days after the Democratic nominee is finalized, McCain will name his own VP choice, which will yank the news cycle back in his direction again. McCain really is in a stronger strategic position because of Democratic infighting.

    April 22, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Paul

    Here is what is going on. Some Republicans are voting for Obama so Hillary can't win, because McCain will have a harder time beating Clinton. These same voters will then vote for McCain in November.

    so be smart and choose Hillary!!!

    April 22, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. After further review,Texas

    Wall Street will win,hands down.

    April 22, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  22. waterman

    I'm loving this. You culturally elitist babies had this thing in the bag. Now you can whine for another 4 years.

    April 22, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    No country for old men.

    April 22, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I think he genuinely likes obama, and would rather see Obama's face for the next months ahead but realizes that hillary would be easier to beat...so thats why he is nuetral

    April 22, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |

    PUHLEASE... the Republicans are IN LOVE with Hillary Clinton right now and they know it!

    April 22, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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