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John McCain Conference Call

John McCain Official Website BannerSenator John McCain held a conference call with several bloggers and other New Media folks this morning from 10-10:35.

He gave a brief statement on why he feels strongly that the Iraq Withdrawal Resolution passed yesterday was dangerous. He contends that the Surge is showing signs of working and that withdrawal would have “catastrophic consequences” for the country. He says “any second year cadet at West Point” knows that you don’t give the enemy a deadline. Further, unlike Vietnam, he believes the enemy will “follow us home” if we lose. That enemy, obviously, is al Qaeda, not the sectarian insurgents.

The first several questioners asked about how this could be handled politically. He believes that the Congressional Democrats want to “satisfy MoveOn.org” but that they don’t really want to cut off funding for the troops in harm’s way, which would happen if the supplemental isn’t passed by April 15. He thinks a version minus the deadline and non-war-related pork can be passed if the president vetoes this bill and takes his case to the American people.

John McCain Campaign Website Photo Eventually, talk turned to the 2008 race. I asked him why he thinks the Republican base is still looking for a “real conservative” and why he thinks he’s trailing Rudy Giuliani, who is much more liberal on key issues than he is. He joked that “Life’s not fair” but he also feels he’s been beat up over the years because he’s been out there on the front lines while Giuliani is still on his 9/11 hero honeymoon. He thinks the campaign can change that. He noted that he’s falling behind on his fundraising goals and needs to overcome his reluctance to ask people for money.

Overall, McCain seemed very chipper and actually extended the call a couple of times when the facilitator, Patrick Hynes, was trying to get him off to other appointments. He clearly enjoys bandying with people, including many who opposed him. Indeed, this is the first conference call with a major politician I’ve been on where people from the other party were invited to participate. He’s got a weird sense of humor, calling some people “jerks” and the like, but he made a good impression on the group, I think.

I’ll add links to roundups by other participants as they come out.

UPDATE: As promised:

Doug Lambert, David All, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Soren Dayton, Fausta (aka “Foster”) Wertz, Matt Lewis, Ryan Sager, Joy McCann, and Philip Klein

UPDATE: McCain has launched an online petititon:

  • The supplemental appropriations bill that passed the Senate on March 27, calling for a date certain withdrawal from Iraq, is nothing more than a guaranteed date of surrender.
  • It is a refusal to acknowledge the dire consequences of failure, in terms of the stability in the Middle East and the resulting impact on the security of all Americans, whether home or abroad.
  • Democrats have chosen the politically expedient position of failure rather than putting aside the small politics of the day in the interest of our nation and the values upon which this nation rests.
  • We the undersigned remain steadfast in our support for the war against terrorism and mindful of the consequences of failure in Iraq, even if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid refuse to acknowledge those consequences.
  • We support our troops and the new strategy and believe it should be given the opportunity to succeed. American national security interests are directly at stake. Success or failure in Iraq is the transcendent issue for our foreign policy and our national security. People say they want to defeat the terrorists, but if we withdraw from Iraq prematurely, it will be the terrorists’ greatest triumph.
  • If we leave Iraq based on an artificial timetable, al Qaeda will be free to plan, train for and conduct operations from Iraq just as they did in Afghanistan before 9/11.

I could do without some of the partisan grandstanding in the rhetoric but think it’s largely right. Indeed, if we’re going to give up in Iraq, it makes no sense to drag it out 18 months.

There’s an accompanying video entitled “Consequences of Surrender.”

Readers can judge for themselves whether Iraq is already a “center of terrorism.”

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Did anybody ever really get to be a Senator by being reluctant to ask people for money?

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  2. James Joyner says:

    A few, I guess. Mark Dayton apparently hated it, although he had plenty of his own cash to spend. Some are better at it than others.

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  3. Anderson says:

    No one asked about marriage b/t passionate women?

    Y’all had the honor of the internet in your hands, & failed miserably!

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  4. TheHat says:

    From a Conservative perspective, McCain is a traitor. He has done everything he could to support Liberals against us. So when John opens his chatter-box I shut down lest I destroy the TV. At least Rudy is perceived as “If I say it, I’ll do it.” He’s man of honor. McCain isn’t.

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  5. legion says:

    Heh. Did anyone ask him about getting bitch-slapped by a CNN reporter yesterday?

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  6. Hal says:

    It’s comments like those by “TheHat” that keep liberals warm at night. Those 25 percent’ers are going to make things really interesting in the republican primary.

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  7. Hal says:

    Ouch. That CNN segment is pretty nasty. And given today’s revelation that off duty police went on a 2 hour shooting spree certainly speaks volumes.

    It’s going to be pretty surreal to see the republican candidate run against this war – or get crushed. I suspect the latter because it certainly doesn’t seem likely that a republican candidate can get past the primaries with the core permanently checked into a Neverland resort.

    “Traitor”. Yea, that’s going to go over well.

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  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Legion, do you recall CNN’s failure to report the savage abuses of power Saddam inflicted on the Iraqi people? Do you recall CNN toeing the line as released by Saddam? Do you recall the reason they gave for their lack of candid reporting? Who cares if a snake promises not to bite? Once bitten. But not you snake bit legion. Huh? CNN indeed.

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  9. John McCain: Still Reliable on Iraq…

    I just got off the phone a little while ago from a conference call with Senator John McCain, who is extremely concerned about the Senate’s passing an appropriations bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq—not to mention an……

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  10. bob in fl says:

    McCain is not having a good day. First comes the gay marriage/lesbian love prank appearing on his web site as a direct result of a negligent staffer. Then he has the temerity to publicly circulate a petition against ending the Iraq War to a populace that is overwhelmingly against it.

    That’s OK, John. You just keep sending the voters over to the other Party in the election. Thanks.

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  11. Andy says:

    When we surrender to the terrorists, can we do it on the deck of a re-commissioned battleship? I want to make sure it’s a nice, formal event.

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  12. [...] The best example of how this all played out is James Joyner’s post at Outside The Beltway. [...]

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