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PostTalk: McCain Insists He Can Beat Obama

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NASHUA, N.H. -- The Fix and Washington Post senior political reporter Dan Balz just concluded an interview with Sen. John McCain -- the Republican frontrunner -- with less than 48 hours remaining before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

In the interview, which was part of washingtonpost.com's "PostTalk" series, McCain insisted that he could win a generational referendum next November against Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) -- arguing that he has brought about real change throughout his legislative life, citing his early support for President Bush's Iraq troop surge as the latest example.

"I've made the most significant change that you could make -- or certainly played a key role in it -- and that is the new strategy in Iraq," McCain told us. "We went from failure with the old strategy and we have the new strategy and we're saving American lives. I can't think of better change, frankly, or more important than saving American lives."

He was largely complimentary of Obama, however, noting that the two had worked together on several issues in the Senate and were quite cordial. If the general election pitted the two senators against one another, McCain predicted it would be conducted "respectfully."

Read the full story here. And make sure to check out The Fix for more on McCain tomorrow morning.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 6, 2008; 7:07 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Polls Picking Up an Obama Surge?

Comments

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Posted by: Braden prrty | April 9, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

McCain is struck-dumb by any meaningful health care reform, he just doesn't care.

Screw that. He has used-up every credit his POW-status in Vietnam, ever awarded-him, just as Colin Powell disgraced his soldier's honor by parroting Bush's lies.

Posted by: Hub2 | January 7, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

amandajoymom95, Mitt would never carry Massachusetts - his home state and mine - against ANY Democrat. His approval rating when he left office as governor was none too good.

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 7, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

John McCain may win the Republican nomination, but he won't win the general election. Obama has inspired and energized younger voters to take part in the political process. Younger voters cannot identify with McCain, they want someone who is closer to their generation, someone who has experienced what they are experiencing - struggling to pay back student loans, stuggling to find decent jobs, to save money to buy homes and to educate their children.

I look at faces of the people around McCain and their are all old. I don't see anyone around him from my generation and it scares me. I'm tired of politicians in their 70's trying to solve social problems that they haven't personally faced. It's time for the older generation of politicians to take an "advisory" role and to let the younger generation take the leadership role.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | January 7, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed that McCain is getting so much support in NH. I am an conservative Arizonan that supported McCain in 2000, but I would never support him now. There are so many conservative issues that JM has voted against in congress--i.e. marriage ammendment. I can't tell you a single friend in JM's home state that currently supports him. I will be surprised if McCain wins his own state. I think Mitt is the one that will actually get the job done in Washington. If you look at what he has done in his home state, how can you not support him. Mitt has a lot more support in his own democratic state than John McCain has in Arizona.

Posted by: amandajoymom95 | January 7, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

bokonon writes
"Inexplicably, FOX will not be including the only candidate who can fly, walk through fire unsinged, and leap tall buildings in a single bound... Ron Paul.

Forgot to mention The Ron's X-ray vision and telepathic powers..."

Word on the streets is Fox will hold a special debate... Ron Paul v Chuck Norris.

Posted by: bsimon | January 7, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

McCain also hilariously likened himself to Luke Skywalker in 2000 (I have a short clip on tape). And remember when those articles about his temper started coming out?? There was a great New Yorker piece on Obama in some depth last spring/summer. He'd do a lot better than McCain under pressure I think.

Really, though, I wanted to second bsimon on this: "Mildly off-topic, I wish to use this opportunity to thank & congratulate Chris & the WaPost online people for posting so prolifically over the last few (and presumably next few) days. The coverage has been great."

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | January 7, 2008 2:25 AM | Report abuse

A McCain-Obama race would be great for the nation, but a 46 year old vs. a 71 year old?? In US politics, unlike France which loves old politicians, the younger candidate almost always wins a generational contest. Bill Clinton over Bush Sr. and Bob Dole, Tom Carper over Bill Roth, Maria Cantwell over Slade Gorton, Slade Gorton over Warren Magnuson...I salivate over the prospect of Obama taking on McCain. Let people choose between the 4th youngest president yet or break the record for oldest president yet (that didn't go so well for Reagan...).

The torch is being passed again. GenXers and those behind them are claiming their place.

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | January 7, 2008 2:20 AM | Report abuse

McCain has a problem with himself. He says very strange things. On Meet the Press, he said he thought it would be fine to be in Iraq for 100 years. Yeah, he is going to win a general election with straight talk like that. That's what this country needs... spending millions a week for a century? What is he talking about? I know he is the oldest candidate, something like 70. Could this be his problem?

Posted by: goldie2 | January 6, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

McCain says he's going to beat Obama just like how Hillary said she'll beat Obama. How as that worked out well for her. People just keep underestimating Obama, they fail to realize at this point in time America doesn't care who as the most exprience. Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld had all the exprience in the world and look at where they've lead our country. At the edge of ruin. Obama will win in a landslide even over the very exprienced McCain because people are looking for major changes at every level of government just like how they were looking for major changes in government with the election of reagan in 1980. Obama is the new Reagan.

Posted by: lumi21us | January 6, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Inexplicably, FOX will not be including the only candidate who can fly, walk through fire unsinged, and leap tall buildings in a single bound... Ron Paul.

Forgot to mention The Ron's X-ray vision and telepathic powers...

Posted by: bokonon13 | January 6, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

FOX News Republican Debate in New Hampshire

Five major Republican candidates appear tonight in Manchester for a Fox News Channel presidential forum. The Fox forum has been criticized for excluding Republicans Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter from the forum.

Who won the FOX Republican Debate in New Hampshire?


http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1463


.

Posted by: PollM | January 6, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I hope nobody is surprised that Senator McCain predicted he would beat Senator Obama, should they face off in the general. What else is he gonna say?

Mildly off-topic, I wish to use this opportunity to thank & congratulate Chris & the WaPost online people for posting so prolifically over the last few (and presumably next few) days. The coverage has been great.

Posted by: bsimon | January 6, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

FOX News Republican Debate in New Hampshire

Who won the FOX Republican Debate in New Hampshire?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1463

.

Posted by: PollM | January 6, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

McCain won't beat Obama (unless something changes) but he is the Republican who can best compete with him. He will be the closest of the GOP pack.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | January 6, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I saw Obama's 13-point lead in the new USA Today/Gallop Poll too.

This is the 4th new poll in 3 days to show Obama opening up a double-digit lead.

USA Today/Gallop Poll: Obama +13
CNN/WMUR: Obama +10
ARG: Obama + 12
Rasmussen: Obama +12

OMG. Obama's going to wup Hillary's butt in NH!

USA Today/Gallop Poll:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/onpolitics/2008/01/obama-up-by-13.html

All other Polls:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/nh/new_hampshire_democratic_primary-194.html

Posted by: writeava | January 6, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Chris, what can you tell me about the polling data out of NH recently?

Do Dem polls include NH independents leaning Dem, or are they just sampling the Dem base?

Same question for the GOP polls.

Obviously, if the polling doesn't include independents, then McCain and Obama have more power than they're getting credit for in the polls.

-Colin, Tulsa, OK

Posted by: superguy918 | January 6, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

USA Today/Gallup (January 4-6)

Obama 41
Clinton 28
Edwards 19
Richardson 6

McCain 34
Romney 30
Huckabee 13
Paul 8
Giuliani 8
Thompson <3
Hunter <3

The surveys of 776 New Hampshire residents who are "likely" to vote in the Republican primary and 778 New Hampshire residents who are "likely" to vote in the Democratic primary were all completed after the news from Thursday's Iowa caucuses had been reported.

Each figure has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. So Obama's lead is "outside" that range, while McCain's is not.

See the full results here.

***

RealClearPolitics.com Average (January 6, 7:15pm ET)

Obama 35.1
Clinton 30.3
Edwards 18.3
Richardson 5.9

McCain 32.6
Romney 28
Huckabee 11.9
Giuliani 8.7
Paul 8.1
Thompson 2.4

See full results here.

***

CNN/WMUR/UNH Poll (January 5-6 )

Obama 39
Clinton 29
Edwards 16
Richardson 7

McCain 32
Romney 26
Huckabee 14
Giuliani 11
Paul 10
Hunter 1
Thompson 1

The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, surveyed 341 likely Democrats and 268 Republicans likely to vote in Tuesday's primary. It had a sampling error of 5 percentage points.

See the full results here.


***

MSNBC/McClatchy/Mason-Dixon (January 6)

Obama 33
Clinton 31
Edwards 17
Richardson 7

McCain 32
Romney 24
Huckabee 12
Giuliani 10
Paul 8

See full results here.

***

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby (January 6)

Obama 31
Clinton 30
Edwards 20
Richardson 7

McCain 31
Romney 32
Huckabee 12
Giuliani 7
Paul 6

See full results here.

***

Concord Monitor (January 5)

Obama 34
Clinton 33
Edwards 23
Richardson 4
Kucinich 3

McCain 35
Romney 29
Huckabee 13
Giuliani 8
Paul 7
Thompson 3

See full results

Posted by: msadvice | January 6, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

One would have to guess the reason behind McCain's comments on beating Obama in the general is that he doesn't want to run against him and would like to dampen enthusiasm.

I'm sure he would rather run against Hillary with her high negatives. McCain's sounding pretty confident talking about the general, but he still has to get past SC and FL.... Huckabee might trip him up with the Christian conservatives.
http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth_Hunter | January 6, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

USA Today/Gallup (January 4-6)

Obama 41
Clinton 28
Edwards 19
Richardson 6

Posted by: msadvice | January 6, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

"In the interview, which was part of washingtonpost.com's "PostTalk" series, McCain insisted that he could win a generational referendum next November against Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) -- arguing that he has brought about real change throughout his legislative life, citing his early support for President Bush's Iraq troop surge as the latest example."

Two things:
1. Ha! If you reduce the NH primary to the impact of the independent vote alone, it isn't at all clear to me that McCain could even win NH.
2. McCain hasn't learned the lesson that HRC hasn't learned. Experience only takes you so far and is worth only so much. Inspiring people can be worth a lot more.

"If the general election pitted the two senators against one another, McCain predicted it would be conducted "respectfully." "
Would McCain-Obama be more or less civil than Huckabee v. Obama? Hard to say. Obama will be his usual smooth self but under pressure both Huckabee and McCain have a nasty streak that could emerge.

Oh, and I'm getting a little tired of this talking point: ""I've made the most significant change that you could make -- or certainly played a key role in it -- and that is the new strategy in Iraq," McCain told us."

While Bush has generously kept his trap about this, those of us with an ability to remember the past know that Bush shut down/ignored/over-rode McCain on a number of occasions. It isn't like McCain suddenly became Secretary of Defense and is allowed to take nearly full credit for the 'surge' idea.

Posted by: judgeccrater | January 6, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

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