Posted: November 20, 2007 1:49 PM
McCain Maintains Sharp Focus on New Hampshire
All the focus in Sen. John McCain’s campaign has turned toward New Hampshire. On Monday, the senator wrapped up a four-day swing through the Granite State, where he highlighted his experience, his views on the war in Iraq and his belief in his ability to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in the general election.
McCain stunned George W. Bush in 2000 by winning the New Hampshire primary, only to later lose to Bush in South Carolina. McCain’s current campaign is hoping it can repeat history and use a victory in the nation’s first primary state to propel the senator toward the nomination.
“McCain’s aides insist the calculus exists for victory,” write Michael Shear and Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post. “Even during the campaign’s darkest days this summer, not one of his public supporters switched sides [in New Hampshire], and his visits to the state far outnumber those to others hosting early contests.”
“There is no issue of greater concern to Iowa Republicans than illegal immigration, the Times-CBS News poll found, and McCain was identified with the effort in Washington to pass legislation that would have, among other things, provided a road for some illegal immigrants to citizenship,” writes Adam Nagourney of the New York Times.
As part of McCain’s New Hampshire trip, he gave a speech Sunday at Franklin Pierce University and outlined why he is positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton next November — and stated the importance of maintaining a civil debate.
“[Clinton] will be a formidable candidate,” McCain said. “And while our differences are many and profound, I intend this to be a respectful debate. She and I disagree over America’s direction, and it is a serious disagreement. But I don’t doubt her ability to lead this country where she thinks it should go.”
“Mr. McCain has struggled to balance his stated desire for a respectful contest with his campaign’s recognition that he has a lot of ground to cover to persuade Republicans that he would stand the best chance against Mrs. Clinton,” writes Marc Santora of the New York Times. “The speech reflected that tension, citing an array of policy differences but using impersonal language.”
McCain also weighed in on some controversial push-polling that occurred in New Hampshire last week. He denied having anything to do with telephone calls made to New Hampshire voters that cast Gov. Mitt Romney in a negative light.
“I am outraged by the cowardly telephone calls that hide behind my name in an effort to disparage one candidate and advance the candidacy of another,” McCain said in a statement Friday. “I was a target of these same tactics in South Carolina in 2000, and believe the American people deserve better from those who seek the high office of the presidency.”
After finishing his campaign appearances in New Hampshire, McCain traveled to Boston Monday to received the endorsement of Tom Kean, the former chair of the Sept. 11 Commission.
“Kean will help McCain make the case to voters in New Hampshire, his must-win state, that strength on national security encompasses a lot more than the divisive issue of Iraq,” writes Mike Allen of Politico.com.
In a statement, Kean said McCain was best able to keep the country safe from terrorists.
“America needs a commander in chief at the helm who is ready to be president on the day he or she takes office,” Kean said. “John McCain is ready to be president from day one. He has seen and suffered the consequences of war. He has also worked tirelessly in both Houses of the United States Congress for the last quarter century to keep Americans safe.”
Later this week, McCain will travel with a congressional delegation to Iraq to spend Thanksgiving with U.S. troops. It will be his seventh trip to the country.