Like several other Republican presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain had harsh words for his opponents Sunday night at the Republican debate in Orlando, Fla. In particular, he took on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s claim that he is the true conservative in the race.
“Governor Romney, you’ve been spending the last year trying to fool people about your record,” McCain said. “I don’t want you to start fooling them about mine. I stand on my record. I stand on my record of a conservative.”
McCain also levied an attack on Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. She recently tried to get funding for a museum for the 1969 rock festival in Woodstock, N.Y.
“In case you missed it, a few days ago, Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock Concert Museum,” he said. “Now, my friends, I wasn’t there. I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.”
McCain was referencing his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and the line received a standing ovation.
“The last line brought about a torrent of applause and a rarely-seen-at-a-debate standing ovation from the entire crowd,” writes Jonathan Martin of the Politico. “It was the most electrifying moment at an event that was clearly organized around the top-tier candidates.”
“McCain’s life-long conservative record of reducing the size of government, eliminating pork-barrel spending, cutting taxes, supporting strict constructionist judges, and defending traditional values proves why he is the most formidable Republican candidate for President,” Davis said. “He is the only conservative in this contest who can beat Hillary Clinton.”
Two days before the debate, McCain attended another candidate forum - the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
“Our founding fathers were informed by the respect for human life and dignity that is the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” McCain told the audience. “They are the self-evident truths proclaimed and defended in our founding documents. All people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For many of us, the meaningful pursuit of happiness compels us to defend those ideals, and in this hour that summons has never been more urgent as America confronts challenges to its founding values, particularly the sanctity of human life, at home and abroad.”
“Senator John McCain wove several powerful anecdotes about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam into a speech in which he emphasized his consistent record opposing abortion in the U.S. Senate but also dwelled upon the issue that has defined his candidacy, the war in Iraq,” writes Michael Luo of the New York Times.
But McCain’s speech did not translate into support from the Christian conservatives. He placed last out of all the candidates in the summit’s straw poll.