September 20th, 2012
12:07 AM ET
8 years ago

Defending Romney, McCain cites 2008 campaign trail misspeak

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Wednesday compared a comment he made during his 2008 presidential bid to one made by his party's 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, which is similarly drawing heavy Democratic flak.

At the time, McCain later pedaled back on his comment.

Clips recorded secretly at a May fundraiser and released Monday showed Romney saying 47% of the electorate are dependent on government. He said they see themselves as victims, and would "vote for the president no matter what."

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Criticism from Democrats piled on. At a news conference Monday evening, Romney said the comments were "not elegantly stated.” His campaign has said the comments were aimed at criticizing expanding entitlement programs.

McCain, a high-profile supporter of Romney and a senator from Arizona, defended the candidate Wednesday on CNN's "AC360," saying the comments were being misunderstood.

"I don't think that's what he meant any more than Barack Obama meant when he said that people cling to guns and Bibles," McCain said. "There is things that people say - millions of statements every day.

"I don't know if you remember when I said the fundamentals of the economy are strong even though we're in a fiscal crisis - oh my god!" he continued, referencing comments that drew heavy criticism from Democrats four years ago.

"You know, there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street," McCain said. "And it is, people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times."

He made the remarks as the volatility on Wall Street consumed the campaign trail, and just hours after banking giants Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America.

McCain made his comments on September 15, 2008, meaning both his and Romney's 2012 comments hit the political cycle in mid-September.

Some might point to a difference in venue: McCain's comments were made at a campaign rally in Florida, while Romney's were made behind closed doors at a fundraiser.

The senator dialed back his comments in the face of heavy criticism, saying the "fundamental strength" was American workers and that the economic troubles were a result of excessive government spending as well as "greed, excess and corruption on Wall Street."

In his Wednesday interview on CNN, he defended Romney.

"I am confident that Mitt Romney cares about every American and … is obviously concerned about the growth of the welfare state," McCain said.

Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Deb in MT

    And, how did that 'mis-speak' thingy work out for you, Senator McCain?

    September 20, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  2. CherryStrWhiz

    As much as I admire Sen. Mc cain as a fellow Vietnam Veteran, and the trying times he experienced as an American POW. I think Sen. MCcain is living in the past. 2008 was 2008 long gone.

    September 20, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  3. Kr55

    McCain really did think the fundamentals of the economy were strong when he said it though... So, is he confirming that Mitt really means what he said in that video? Thanks for the clarification John.

    September 20, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  4. sparky

    hmm interesting... says in the article that the economy was in a fiscal crisis during the 2008 campaign.
    but all we hear is how president obama destroyed the economy.... hmmm

    September 20, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Hello, thats a defence it was nowhere near effective.

    September 20, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  6. Cam Spurgeon

    McCain is still reliving his loss at the expense of the country and undermines Obama every step of the way.He is a war prisoner hero who is totally damaging his own credibility both with his voting record and his mentally challenged partisanship. UGH and UGH to CNN for making this pathetic old man one of your run to sources.

    September 20, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  7. Thomas

    Retire ASAP !

    September 20, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  8. Marie MD

    So now you know what's on the mind of a "man" who doesn't know from day to day what he is going to say or think?
    mcnasty, do you remember your meeting at a college years ago were you said the same thing that the President said 14 years ago about redistribution of wealth after a college student asked you. Let me refresh your memory her father was/is a doctor?
    Go away. You gave us that mutant from AK. You should have enough self respect to go hide in one of your seven or eight houses.

    September 20, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  9. SafeJourney

    McCain, romney did not misspeak. Romney spoke exactly what he thinks about 47% of Americans. disgusting

    September 20, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  10. anonoymous

    Yeah and you lost.....remember

    September 20, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |