McCain: 'Having Fun' in the Home Stretch

Right now, the Republican presidential race is all over the map.

There's Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister who has shot up in the polls and who took the amazing step Monday of injecting Jesus Christ directly into a political advertisement.

To the strains of "Silent Night" and with a cross shape carefully framed over his shoulder, Huckabee makes a profession of faith in a Christmas greeting to Iowa voters.

Then there's the actor Fred Thompson, once greeted as a conservative savior, now fading fast and a little upset about it. There's the national front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who could well lose Iowa and New Hampshire both badly. And then there's Mitt Romney, once the solid front-runner in Iowa, now relentlessly attacking Huckabee, who's zoomed past him.


And as if all that upheaval, bad blood and unpredictability weren't enough, Monday in Hillsborough, N.H., there was yet another surprise — John McCain's endorsement by Joe Lieberman.

The same Lieberman, who just seven years ago was the Democratic candidate for vice president as Al Gore's running mate, jumped into the Republican contest to endorse McCain.

'Really Getting Into the Home Stretch'

"Being a Republican is important. Being a Democrat is important," Lieberman told reporters Monday. "But you know what is more important than that? The interest and well-being of the United States of America. Let's put America first again and John McCain is the man as president who will help us do that."

So with Republicans so deeply divided, McCain reached out to an independent Democrat for help.

Of course, as Lieberman — who has enraged Democrats with his staunch support of the Bush war policy — frankly admitted: "Let me just say something for the record — none of the Democratic candidates asked for my support. John McCain did."

It's that kind of race for Republicans. And so this was a very good day to check it out from McCain's perspective.

"Nightline" caught up with McCain just after 7 a.m. Monday in Concord, N.H., and boarded his bus, which, like always, is a rolling, nonstop news conference.

"We are having fun and we're, you know, really getting into the home stretch," he said.

Staying Out of Political 'Food Fights'

McCain clearly loves this campaigning, and it doesn't seem like a schtick. He also seems to be enjoying the fact that his opponents are cutting each other up, while he stays above the fray.

"I don't get in those food fights," he said, when asked about Huckabee and Romney's disagreement over foreign policy, and Huckabee's assertion that the Bush administration is arrogant. "I have been a consistent critic of the Bush administration in the handling of the war for nearly four years. I am the only Republican that is running that did that. What is the point of me calling the president arrogant, no matter whether he is Republican or Democrat?"

He is constantly moving in front of voters, as if he wants to prove something. At 71, he would be the oldest president ever elected.

But McCain doesn't see his age as an issue. "That's why I take my 95-year-old mother around with me to a lot of events," he said with a laugh. "She's incredibly alert and very bright and gives me a lot of good advice and counsel."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...