Some Q-and-A with John McCain, who fundraised at the state capital and chatted with Gov. Charlie Crist today:
How will the 06 Democratic gains affect your campaign?
McCain: “Doesn’t change my strategy or my chances, but it emphasizes the need to go back to the principles of the Republican Party. We lost the 2006 elections because of spending. We let spending get out of control. We presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society, and we paid a very heavy price for it. And there was corruption. And we’ve got to clean it up.”
It wasn’t the war?
“The war was not the biggest issue, as a matter of fact. Otherwise, Joe Lieberman could never have been elected.”
On the early primary:
“It increases dramatically the importance of money…. I think we can win under any scenario….”
Should Florida be punished for moving the vote up?
“I wouldn’t do it myself. I don’t believe in penalizing states…. We do need to have all the states sit down and probably have a more rational process. All I’m doing is playing the hand we’re dealt.”
“I have to do better in every quarter of fundraising. I have to improve my charisma, my talent and my otherwise rhetorical skills.” He said he’d like to raise “$300 million… A billion is about a good target. (laughs)”
On the vote on the Democrats’ Iraq plans:
“If we send a signal that we’re pulling out then we send the enemy the message: Hold on, we’re leaving. It should be called the Definite Date for Surrender Act… We lose in Iraq, then we have a lot more problems than my presidential ambitions…. I do see some signs of success.”
“The weaker we are the stronger they are. The question is U.S. casualties. We’ve remained in Korea for 50 years. Nobody minds. The point is: Our strategy is to fight with, alongside the Iraqi military and then have them take on more and more of the responsibilities. Well, the straight talk: They’re not ready to do that. And the police are still corrupt. We’ve got work to do.”
Should the U.S. bomb Iran? “After you’ve exhausted every option. And there are many options… The president of the United States has said very clearly we will not allow Israel to be destroyed by Iran. And the president’s right.”
On oil, disasters and climate change: “some kind of federal-state relationship”
McCain says oil drilling is a state’s-rights issue, some type of national catastrophic fund is needed and “climate change is real.”