McCain Predicts 'Very Close Race' Against Obama, Casts Self as Underdog

"I felt that someday there will be a woman who is president of the United States, because I have a great faith in the American people. And I have a great faith in their sense of justice and their judgment of people on their qualities, as Dr. King said, not by the — by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin," he said.

"I have great faith that America would select someone and will, either man, woman, no matter who they are, as far as — more on their qualities and their leadership and the way they can lead the country than any other quality."

But McCain does not believe he needs to address the issue of race in his campaign.

"I don't think I have to address the issue of race. I have tried to on various venues address the issue of age. You know, on "Saturday Night Live," when I said the person — the primary qualification for president has to be someone who's very, very, very old. But I think, as in the primary, the voters will judge me by the way I campaign and what my vision is and what they view my vitality and strengths are. And that's where I think that I can convince them that not only do I have the age, but I have the experience and knowledge to make the kinds of judgments that are necessary to keep the nation safe and prosperous."

When asked what he felt would be the principle issues in this campaign, McCain was quick with a direct response: "Reform, prosperity and peace."

"Reform of government in the way we do business, which is geared to the '60s and '70s and not responsive to the new challenges. Prosperity, obviously, Americans are hurting badly, keeping their homes, the job loss. The continued deterioration of certain — a lot of aspects of our economy. And, of course, security. I believe that the war in Iraq has far more effects than just Iraq. I think it is the central battleground of the struggle against radical Islamic extremism, as General David Petraeus portrayed it," McCain went on to explain.

Third Bush Term or Maverick Independent?

Though the general election has yet to hit high gear, in the latter stages of his primary fight against Clinton, Obama did turn his sights on McCain. And the line of attack was clear: A vote for McCain is a vote for a third Bush term, Obama contends.

"I hear that over and over from the Democrats and from Senator Obama, and I understand that political tactic. I don't think it's going to work," McCain told "World News" in the interview.

"What Americans want now, in my opinion, from having literally hundreds of town hall meetings, what are you going to do about gas prices? What are you going to do about health care? What are you going to do about the threats that we face from radical Islamic extremism?"

"I haven't heard anybody at a town hall meeting, although I'm sure that it's on their minds, say, "Well, you're too close to President Bush." What they've said is, "What's your plan of action?" That's what they're interested in, and that's how I think that I can meet that particular campaign tactic," McCain countered.

The senator said that with Bush's approval rating being at record lows, rising gas prices and a housing crisis, a battle cleary lies ahead.

"I do not underestimate the size of this challenge," McCain told Gibson. "But I also know that the American people right now are judging us, one, as fairly even, but also they're going to examine us. That's the strength of this process, is that they'll examine the candidates."

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