ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Senator John McCain opened a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona Monday with a whirlwind tour of his opinions on foreign affairs.
“It’s an interesting time internationally, obviously,” McCain said, “and I’d like to mention several of the things that happened.”
He moved quickly to the Russian election, “and I use the term [election] loosely,” he said.
"It is obviously an election that would not pass the smell test in any functioning democracy,” McCain said of the election of Dmitry Medvedev, the handpicked successor to current Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Later in the news conference, McCain went on to say that Russia should no longer be invited to the G8 conferences – the group of eight industrialized nations that meet every year – something he has said in the past.
The GOP contender then went on to talk about the violence along the Gaza strip in Israel, calling Hamas a terrorist organization and saying that Israel has a right to respond to the attacks.
“The situation becomes more and more dangerous as we speak,” he said. “All countries in the world should do whatever is necessary to prevent an escalation of this violence and the needless loss of innocent civilians.”
To round out the tour, McCain then moved on to the unrest in South America between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, calling on the House of Representatives to pass a free trade agreement with Colombia to help ease the tensions.
“If we turn down that free trade agreement it sends a signal throughout the region that it’s not very beneficial to be a friend of the United States,” he said.
To be sure, McCain starts many of his press conferences with some point of international news he believes should be addressed. And it has been several days since he last talked to the press, and a busy weekend around the world.
But it is not hard to imagine McCain attempting to draw a distinction between himself and his Democratic rivals for the White House, who will spend the last few hours leading up to Tuesday’s primaries engaging with each other, while the presumptive nominee on the Republican side is free to focus instead on matters of state.
McCain was asked about an advertisement Hillary Clinton ran, touting her stature and readiness to handle a crisis in the middle of the night.
“I think many Americans when they consider the three of us, I would believe that my knowledge and experience and background clearly indicates that if the phone rang at 3 am in the white house, I would be the one most qualified to exercise the kind of judgment,” he said.