After numerous rallies in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wrapped up his “No Surrender” tour Monday with a final appearance at the Citadel in Charleston.
“We think it went great,” said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. “The senator got to tour the early primary states with a bunch of distinguished Americans and hold over 20 events over six days and just make the case that he’s been making for a while for victory. We’re feeling really energized by it.”
Indeed, the No Surrender tour garnered a slew of positive press reports for McCain, who has seen a bump in national polls in recent weeks. A Gallup poll released Tuesday has McCain in third place among Republican hopefuls, only 4 percentage points behind former Tennessee GOP Sen. Fred Thompson.
“The pro-war tour comes at a time when McCain is starting to recover in the national polls,” wrote Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic. “He was widely cited as the winner of a Sept. 5 Republican candidate debate in New Hampshire, and that televised performance likely was responsible for McCain’s uptick in a recent round of surveys. He also has gained strength from last week’s report on the Iraq war, which supported McCain’s opposition to a troop withdrawal.”
At his rally at the Citadel on Monday, McCain got some help from former President George H.W. Bush. According to the Associated Press, the elder Bush appeared in a video to support the troops.
“The bottom line is we must persevere; we must not surrender; we must not quit and run away,” he said. “God bless our troops and everyone involved in the ‘No Surrender’ rally there in Charleston.”
Both McCain’s campaign and the former president’s office said the message was not intended as an official endorsement. However, former President Bush’s appearance comes on the heels of an Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper New York Times article focusing on how McCain has distanced himself from the current president.
“Mr. McCain sprinkles his speeches not with references to Mr. Bush but to General Petraeus, a shift that not only mirrors the White House strategy of putting the military out front but also symbolically encapsulates a recognition of what many Republicans consider to have been a fundamental mistake of Mr. McCain in his candidacy: trying to present himself as Mr. Bush’s anointed successor and ideological heir,” they wrote.
Throughout the No Surrender tour, McCain frequently took aim at Democrats who refused to denounce a Moveon.org ad calling General Petraeus “General Betray-Us” in the New York Times. In particular, he took on Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as seen in this video from New Hampshire:
And if McCain’s appearances in the early primary states didn’t make his position on the war clear enough, his campaign launched a new Web feature that gives a timeline of the senator’s statements on the war going back to 2003.
Looking ahead, McCain will be in Washington, D.C. as the Senate again debates troop withdrawal measures. He also will be fund raising at events in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Indiana over the next four days.
McCain’s campaign appearances also include scheduled speeches before the National Rifle Association on Friday in Washington and the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan on Saturday.