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

The Challenge of Iraq

One of those areas in which McCain sees an advantage: Iraq.

"It's clear that the surge is succeeding. We are winning in Iraq now, at great cost, at great sacrifice," McCain said.

"The mishandling of the war for nearly four years, which I fought against and fought for this new strategy. Senator Obama opposed the surge, said it wouldn't work, and said it was doomed to failure, and said that he would withdraw. I believe, if we'd had done what he said — and I think it's becoming clearer and clearer to the American people there would have been chaos, genocide, and we'd have been back. But also, now with success, it has beneficial effects throughout the region, as well."

Sen. Obama has said he will travel to Iraq but not with McCain, as his Republican opponent had suggested.

"I have every confidence that if Senator Obama goes to Iraq, meets with General Petraeus, and the sergeant majors and the captains and the colonels and the corporals, that he will know that this strategy is succeeding and he would modify — would change his position, and support what's being done over there, and bring us home, but bring us home with honor and victory, not defeat," McCain said.

Veepstakes and Money

As the primary season winds down and the nominees are settled, political pundits often turn to the next high-stakes story of the campaign: the veepstakes.

McCain told Gibson his campaign is in the "early stages" of their search for a running mate saying he wants to "try and get it done as soon as possible, but not too early."

When pressed, McCain said he would "like very much" to make his pick prior to the Republican National Convention in early September but explained, "What I've seen in the past is that everybody that's a presidential nominee says, 'OK, I'm going to get this done by this and this, this,' and then, all of a sudden, 'Whoops, we've got to — did we consider this and that?' And they end up really fighting up against a really deadline. I hope we can avoid that."

McCain also said he would "lean towards" agreeing to public financing in the general campaign but only if Obama — who signed a pledge to do so last year — did the same.

"I haven't made a final decision. But, a little straight talk, we'd certainly lean towards it, but I would hope that Senator Obama would also keep his word," McCain said.

The Passion to Win

Written off by many after a turbulent summer in 2007, McCain's campaign was once broke and teetering on the brink of collapse before a remarkable comeback.

Gibson asked McCain how badly, especially in light of that experience, he wants to win the White House in November.

"I want to win, obviously. And I'm going to work 24/7 in order to try to become the president of the United States. It's very humbling to have the nomination of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan," McCain said.

"But I don't want it so badly that I would do something that later I would look back on as something that was less than the kind of conduct that I would want my children and family and friends to respect."

McCain has often said he's comfortable with his record — win or lose in this, the biggest campaign of his life.

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