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On the Stump, McCain Outlines Differences with Bush

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting April 9, 2008, in Westport, Conn. (Associated Press)

By Juliet Eilperin
WESTPORT, Conn. -- Speaking before a global investment firm this afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took pains to distance himself from President Bush even as he reiterated his support for Gen. David Petraeus's handling of the war in Iraq.

During a town hall meeting at Bridgewater Associates, McCain vowed to confer more with congressional leaders on matters of war and "be humble" in his dealings with foreign leaders. Asked whether he would reject Bush's "preemptive war" strategy, he declined to rule it out but said he would take a sharply different tack when weighing military action overseas.

"I think you need to consult more closely and carefully, not with every member of Congress, but with the leadership of Congress," he told the crowd of several hundred Bridgewater employees. "If they're not in on the takeoff, they're not going to be in on the landing.... In other words, consult with them a whole lot."

The GOP presidential nominee also conceded the administration may have erred in some of the restrictions it placed on foreigners in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying there's "a constant tension" between protecting civil liberties and national security.

"It's not the first time in America where we've made an error," he said, alluding to the federal government's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Adding that "sometimes democracies overreact" during times of national security crises, he pledged to periodically review the Patriot Act in order to safeguard civil liberties.

McCain also reiterated his long-held opposition to torture. "As president of the United States I will make sure that never happens," he said. "What kind of nation are we if we torture people? That's not the shining city on the hill."

But McCain also went out of his way to praise the administration's current approach to the war, saying Petraeus ranks as "one of the greatest generals this nation has ever been blessed with."

"It's long and it's hard and it's tough," McCain said of the war. "But this new strategy is succeeding, although it's very difficult."

The audience of investment analysts, who listened to McCain under a large white tent illuminated by red, white and blue lights, asked a range of questions that touched on financial matters as well as military ones. When one questioner asked the senator if he would choose to raise taxes, cut entitlement or defense spending or increase the deficit as president given the budget's current trajectory, McCain rejected all four options. Instead, he argued, his proposal to cut taxes and constrain spending would help erase the deficit.

"My answer to you is you grow the economy," he said. "I believe we can grown this economy and reduce this deficit ... by the kinds of pro-growth, pro-stimulus packages that have shown throughout history. They can grow the economy."

One self-identified Democrat asked McCain whether he would consider resigning his seat in order to give the GOP a better chance of retaining his seat if elected, since under that scenario the state's Democratic government would appoint the Republican of her choice and then call a special election.

While McCain -- who noted he had not been asked the question for a long time -- replied, "I do not envision the scenario of resigning my seat," he added he would go back and think about the prospect of giving up his seat before the fall. "Of course," he said, laughing, "there are people who regularly ask me to resign."

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 9, 2008; 6:56 PM ET
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As much as I respect McCain the truth of the matter is that it will just be more of the same yucky doo-doo. It reminds of a line from The Who, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Posted by: Roxanne1963 | April 12, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

And somehow McCain wants us to believe that Obama is out of touch with voters??

Let's not stand for another term of the Bush Presidency. We've had enough that it will take an entire generation to fix the mistakes of a few narrow-minded, greedy people who've taken this country in the wrong direction for far too long. Enough is enough.

Posted by: wetnoodle | April 12, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

MCBUSH is the 15 trillion dollar man. He wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years at a cost of 12 billion dollars a month. However, He voted against 18 million children getting adequate Health care. Seems like a mean spirited Republican who has his priorities in the wrong place....

Posted by: Johnny K | April 12, 2008 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Interesting info about McCain losing 5 planes (detailed here, among other places: The story told here--not a friendly site for old John--is actually quite balanced, citing as primary source a book about Annapolis history. It details, for instance, that one of the lost planes was hardly his fault: the famous USS Forrestal incident in which another plane's armament set of a horrific conflagration that he barely escaped. It also details the capture that led to his becoming a POW. He's survived a lot.

But, I read this and can't help but think of Joe in "L'il Abner".....

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

LOL! I mean LMFAO!

Seems Patriot needs to keep up with the News.

Obasama has some very BIG Spenders Bundling Away! ;~)

But, that is a surprise to who-over the age of 30? ;~)

Posted by: RAT-The | April 11, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

People may paint Obama and Hillary as "liberal" and "socialist", but the fact of the matter is, the Bush admin is the most socialist government ever and "liberal" with the truth! McCain is the same. What tax bracket are you in? What do you get for that money? Where does it go? It goes for war waging for the benefit of the greedy. It goes to bail out Wall Street. It goes for big oil subsides while they make record profits. Capitalized profits; Socialized losses. Increasingly, it goes for things which you have no say about. Someone else "decides". McCain is Bush III.

94% of Obama's money is >$200.
26% of Hillary's is >$200.
12% of McCain's is >200.

It's as simply as Democracy vs. Fascism. Don't be fooled by the war lovers who drive the economy to recession.

Posted by: Patriot | April 10, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

China Laughing!

They know they are the new super power and that these neocon fools are their debt ridden puppets on strings!

The Recession will Sink Into Depression.

Posted by: Libertarian Alliance | April 10, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Why does John McCain, who has made over a dozen pro-torture votes in the U.S. Senate over the past couple of years, get to "reiterate his long-held opposition to torture"? Sure, he says he's against it. And every time a vote comes up, he votes for the U.S. to keep torturing.

Why don't you practice some journamalism and point out the hypocrisy and lying?

Posted by: Anon | April 10, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

He is different from Bush....and Obama and Hillary...!

He has a CLUE on what is really like out there in the REAL world, and what it TAKES to fix it, instead of slogans of "change" etc!

...finally and Commander in Chief that HAS BEEN a Commander in Chief before (McCain was Commanding Officer of the US Navy biggest Air Wing squadron)!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go Mac go!

Posted by: Louis | April 10, 2008 12:09 PM

Really? He knows what its really like out there in the "real world?" You mean like NOT knowing the difference between Shia and Sunni's or Iran and Al Qaeda? His greatest "stregnth" and he cannot make an accurate distinction. On more than 5 occasions he has delivered a butchered, schizophrenic, inept ovcerview of the condition of the war in Iraq and more importantly the principle players involved. Please....He slip-flops on the use of torture, Bush tax cuts, abortion, campaign finance reform, the confederate flag, stem cell research, and so on and so on. For a man wo "knows the real world" He sure does change his mind about it regularily. UNless of course he knows more about the shifting world politics than he does "the real world" To make matters worse almost ALL his flip-flops eventually mirrored the postions of the White House and George Bush. So not only does he flip-flop but he ends up flipping over to policies that look EXACTLY like a third term for Bush. Please "real world" REAL funny.

Posted by: feastorafamine | April 10, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Go ahead folks, vote for Obama, the most liberal senator in the Senate, or Hillary, nearly as liberal and see what happens in the new United Socialist States of America.

"Socialism doesn't work in practice, it is good in theory.." is so true, and so few have a clue.

I will vote against liberal, socialist candidates for as long as I'm able to vote in an attempt to forestall, for as long as possible, the downfall of this once great democracy.

I suppose it doesn't make a difference that whoever is running for president, seems to have any idea of what they might or might not do to lead this country out of the terrible mess it's in.

Posted by: Dave | April 10, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

McCain is Insane! He's a PTSD sufferer with an anger management problem who graduated 850 out of 855 in his class. He became a Navy pilot thanks to his father being an Admiral. He was horrible pilot who lost 5 planes; the last being shot down. He left his wife for a rich hot 25 year old who later stole drugs from the non-profit she ran and now has brain damage. He's wrong on so many fronts and probably under blackmail control by Bush and his cronies. Cantankerous and cancerous. He's old and to unstable to have his quivering hand anywhere near The Button.

Posted by: Patriot | April 10, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse for you Wolfgang Hartmann and your post...

you are NOT speaking Russian and living under a "Greater USSR Empire" today due to what McCain and other vets like us did to defeat the Soviet Empire in the Cold War!


your freedom today in Europe and many other places IS DUE to him and thousands of AMERICAN vets like him! if you and others in Europe speak about McCain all you should say is THANK YOU!!! ...for the sacrifice of been on the front lines of a "Cold War" that was plenty hot in places like Nam against an empire that wanted World subjugation!!

get a clue Euros...get a clue!

Posted by: Louis | April 10, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

He is different from Bush....and Obama and Hillary...!

He has a CLUE on what is really like out there in the REAL world, and what it TAKES to fix it, instead of slogans of "change" etc!

...finally and Commander in Chief that HAS BEEN a Commander in Chief before (McCain was Commanding Officer of the US Navy biggest Air Wing squadron)!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go Mac go!

Posted by: Louis | April 10, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Let's see now, since Bush took office the national debt has climbed from 5 trillion dollars to approaching 10 trillion dollars.
At 3% interest, .03 of 10 trillion is 300 billion. So, American taxpayers are spending 300 billion a year just to pay the interest on the national debt.

Bring back the taxes on the wealthiest 5% and bring back our troops from that trillion dollar quaqmire in Iraq and we will begin to get our economic house in order.

Posted by: thomas | April 10, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The media in general has used the term "preemptive war" carelessly in discussion of Bush administration policy. Preemptive war (to forestall an imminent and material threat of attack) has *always* been a policy option, and is a universally recognized component of the inherent right of self-defense. What the Bush administration has advocated instead is *preventive* war, that is, military action against an adversary that *may* pose a threat in the non-immediate future. The problem lies in defining the threshold for action. One may argue reasonably that a nation ought not to have to wait until the material threat is deployed and poised to strike. But the consequences would be destructive for the world, and suicidal for ourselves, if we countenance military action against *all* potential threats, regardless of magnitude or immediacy.

Posted by: Daryl | April 10, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Why does he think he is not a warmonger?
He bombed women and children in Vietnam and he wants to continue the war in Iraq for another 100 years. If he is elected president of the USA we German's will throw out those US troops and their families walking our streets in Heidelberg. We will spit on them and make them clear that they are NOT welcome here in Europe any longer! The US needs a very new much more humble politics, we will not tolerate NATO much longer in Western Europe.

Posted by: Wolfgang Hartmann | April 10, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

He can point out all of the differences between him and Bush until the cows come home but my friends he'll still be a Republican come November.

Posted by: Terry | April 10, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

your against the taxes, now you are for them. you was for torture, now againt. you are playing the republican cards. be yourself and dont be controlled by your party

Posted by: al marzilli | April 10, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

jake D. If you ever come up to nyc, let me know. I'd personally like to give you something you need.

Posted by: jeffp | April 10, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Given the gross stupidity of his economic policies, I am amazed the financial analysts in that room did not either break ribs laughing, or urinate all over themselves as McCain detailed how he will further bankrupt this once great country.

How much money does his wife need for makeup?

Posted by: jeffp | April 10, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The ONLY reason McCain will take public financing is if he concludes he will not raise enough money himself.
LOOK at the quote MCCAIN's CAMPAIGN gave to the NY Times:

"We could sit down in July or August and say, 'Hey, we're raising a lot of money and maybe we should forgo it,' " said Charles Black, a senior McCain adviser. "We don't have enough data."

So it is not a matter of principal for McCain, it is a matter of time and whether McCain CAN raise enough money.


Posted by: JonathanR | April 10, 2008 3:37 AM | Report abuse

McBush...uhm...I mean McCain does have something going for him. He resembles the lovable old "Cotton" from King of the Hill. He's a racist old man who had his legs amputated from serving in the Vietnam War...

Posted by: Erik | April 10, 2008 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Love John McCain. Not his polcies. As a senator, he is great. Exactly what the country needs. As a President, not so much. CORPORATIONS DON'T NEED LOWER TAXES! The economy needs new infrastructure for businesses to innovate. Service economies don't last... we need to manufacture our own goods. Only Obama has the right answers (at least to me). He is middle of the road compared to McCain and Clinton. He is the next president of the US.

Posted by: Chris Stewart | April 10, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

John McCain shouldn't be allowed anywhere he has any control over our economy. He's already been in one savings and loan scandal.

Posted by: John McKeatingFive | April 9, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

who cares if obama's middle name is hussein? that name is as common in some countries as john and michael are in the US. get over it.

Posted by: John HUSSEINOMG! Smith | April 9, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Can someone point out even ONE political candidate that hasn't changed their mind in history? You show me that person and i'll show you W's twin. Inheriting this mess won't be easy. I'd rather be trying to grow the economy than paying for 20 million illegal imigrants friggin meds. Clinton, Obama, Stallin...same party different name. While we're at it why don't I just hand over my right to make more money than the guy next to me. Listen to any of them for more n ten min's and you'd think i'd stolen from their grandmother.

Posted by: Carter | April 9, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

During hot time in Iraq the Prez goes on vacation to a non war zone

Posted by: Daly | April 9, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Yester Mc said that there were 1k Iraqi's that would not or could not fight. NPR says that many of them turned and started shooting at US!
We payoff the iraqi bad guys so they do not take up arms and when they are unhappy or want more $; more fighting breaks out. Iraqi prez welcomed the Iran prez with red carpet treatment and this month so far, we have lost 17 men/women. During hot time in Iraq the Prez goes on vacation to a now war zone and In the face of all this we still have this guy dancing to boom boom boom

Posted by: Daly | April 9, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

ceflynline, you missed the part about "constrain spending" something no one else in government seems to care about.

Posted by: JSIII | April 9, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The difference is obvious. Bush IS a terrible President, and has moved the nation into its worst foreign policy decisions ever. McCain just WANTS to be President, and continue the worst foreign policy decisions ever.

BIG difference.

Posted by: steve boyington | April 9, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Newt for VP.

Posted by: mitchs | April 9, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Somehow a Caption was not printed-

"My answer to you is you grow the economy," he said. "I believe we can grown this economy and reduce this deficit ... by the kinds of pro-growth, pro-stimulus packages that have shown throughout history. They can grow the economy."

THAT, was what I was calling TOO MUCH MIS-SAID!

Fetch Mitt Johnny-OR, remember that STICK?


Get Mittster NOW! :-(

Posted by: RAT-The | April 9, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"Rolls Eyes"


"More Rolls"

McCain, stand politely next to Mitt Romney as he enlightens everyone with something that could actually be considered "Intelligent", "Profound", and "Insightful".

While you nod your heads and take notes!

Maybe, they would have liked to have heard about your "Big Military Man" options for dealing with the Capital thieving Hugo Chavez! :-(


McCain, your CLUE, is waiting probably as impatiently as ME, for you to show you possess the bare minimum of Intelligence, and Get Mitt Romney on Board as the VP Candidate!

McCain-THAT was TOO MUCH MIS-SAID! "Eyes Rolling over and over!"

Posted by: RAT-The | April 9, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

As for John conferring with the leaders of Congress, he already knows what the leaders of the senate feel about Iraq, and intends to ignore them. So any conference will be John telling Harry et al what he expects they will do, and then ignoring their points of view. George just doesn't bother with the process, since he doesn't care about the democrats ideas either, and doesn't do well when people disagree with him.

By the way, John doesn't do well with people who don't agree with him either.

It is about as much difference as between the gray we paint our Naval ships, and the Gray Japan paints its Maritime Self Defense Forces Ships.

I sure couldn't tell them apart by color.

Posted by: | April 9, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

You better hope it never becomes a contest to see who is the biggest flip-flopper in America-McCain will "win" that contest by a landslide. I don't think that is the contest he wants to win.

Posted by: Dennis | April 9, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I've ever accused Barack HUSSEIN Obama of changing his position.

Posted by: JakeD | April 9, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Jake- I'll remember that line next time you accuse Obama of changing his position.

Posted by: Dennis | April 9, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

Posted by: JakeD | April 9, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

The U. S. Fiscal 2009 budget shows a deficit of $400 Billion against revenues of 2,700, about 15 %. Allow for the close to $2000 billion in surplus in Social Security and the Transportation budgets, that is really closer to a 25% budget deficit. For John to "Grow the economy" enough to balance the budget, that would be an annual growth of close to 30%. Assuming ANYONE could grow the economy that fast, and Republicans haven't been able to average 4% since Richard Nixon, or, actually, since Calvin Coolidge, that kind of growth would obviously be in conjunction with ruinous inflation.

But then again, John SAYS he isn't very good at economics.

Posted by: | April 9, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Right, he opposed Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, now he supports them. He opposed Bush's CIA torture, now he supports it. He agreed with Bush's position on the immigration bill, now he opposes it. McCain has been on both sides of virtually every issue, so of course he disagreed with Bush at one time or another, and agreed with him, also.

Posted by: Dennis | April 9, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Of course, there are many other areas where he and President Bush disagreed ...

Posted by: JakeD | April 9, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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