McCain: Some People Say There’s a Woman to Blame …
John McCain was on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno last night, continuing his graceful exit from a bitter presidential race.
In his first interview since conceding the presidential election, John McCain said Tuesday that Sarah Palin did not damage his presidential bid and he dismissed anonymous criticism aimed at her following their crushing defeat. “I’m so proud of her and I’m very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does,” McCain told Jay Leno during a “Tonight Show” interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night. “I couldn’t be happier with Sarah Palin.”
In an interview that mingled flashes of humor with political analysis, McCain did little to deflect responsibility from himself. He alluded to the difficult political environment for Republicans nationwide and conceded, “I could tell you a lot of things that we may have made mistakes on.” He never listed them. “So, that’s the way it is,” he added.
Asked by Leno to address griping about Palin from unidentified McCain operatives in the days following the election, the Arizona senator said, “These things happen in campaigns. I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers,” he scoffed. “A top adviser said? … I’ve never even heard of … a top adviser or a high-ranking Republican official.”
While shielding Palin from blame, McCain also steered around a suggestion that skewed media coverage tilted the election toward Obama. “One thing I think Americans don’t want is a sore loser,” he said. “I knew I had a headwind. I can read the polls,” he said, in an obvious reference to a political climate soured by an economic crisis and unpopular Republican president and war.
What’s this say about the GOP brand? The “party has a lot of work to do. We just got back from the woodshed,” he said.
What about another campaign for McCain, who will be 76 years old in 2012? “I wouldn’t think so,” McCain told Leno, with a hint of resignation in his voice. “We are going to have another generation of leaders come along.”
Palin helped McCain with conservatives and likely hurt him on balance with moderates. Regardless, picking her was his call and casting blame on her would diminish his stature. He’s far better off going back to the Senate and restoring his luster by helping his party rebuild itself than engaging in recriminations.
He’s right, too, that the next nominee is likely to be someone from a much younger generation and, I suspect, one not from Washington.