Sen. John McCain: 'We're Coming Back Strong'

McCain pledges bipartisanship, says "we're going to fool the pundits."

Oct. 31, 2008— -- As the two presidential campaigns make their closing arguments to voters in battleground states, Sen. John McCain said he's confident about his chances on Nov. 4 and pledged to continue to reach across the aisle and serve his country, win or lose.

"I'm confident we'll win next Tuesday," McCain told ABC News' Charlie Gibson today. "I think we're going to fool the pundits one more time."

Most political experts predict the Democratic Party to take firm control of the Senate and the House after Election Day, but McCain said that if elected he would not have trouble governing with a Democratic Congress.

"I have a long record of reaching across the aisle," McCain said. "And I have a long record of accomplishment. Look, there are some people on the other side of the aisle and maybe a couple on my side of the aisle that are not personally close to me. But they respect me."

McCain said he "wasn't measuring the drapes" in the White House, but if elected his Cabinet would be made up of Democrats as well as Republicans. He didn't cite specific names, but said, "They are respected people in America."

McCain told Gibson that whether he wins or not, he would "do what I've been doing all my life. Serving my country and putting my country first. That has been my record. ... And sometimes that has not made me the most popular in my own party because I have put my country first."

"Anybody who puts their country first can heal the wounds of this -- of any political campaign," he said. "And right now, America is ready for a united effort to fix our economy and keep our country safe."

McCain on Sarah Palin and the Future

McCain also said he saw a bright future for his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, telling Gibson that "the nation needs people like Sarah."

"She's a reformer," he said. "She took on her own party. She, she is the most popular governor in America. ... Sarah Palin, I think, would have emerged on the American political stage whether I happened to have chosen her or not. It's not a question of whether. It would have been a question of when. And I think she has inspired millions and millions of people."

McCain said that he has discussed the future with his campaign but said that "for me to start picking my chief of staff or that kind of stuff is something we've got plenty of time for."

"Americans don't like for you to measure the drapes," McCain said. "They want you to win first. And that's why we have a period of time between the election and the inauguration. ... But, clearly, I know what the challenges are and I know how to meet them."

A McCain-Palin administration's first priorities would be national security and economic recovery, the candidate said.

"[The first priority of] any president is to ensure America's security," he said. "That is a first priority of any president throughout our history, particularly, in the 20th and 21st centuries."

McCain lauded the work of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for his work in Iraq and appeared to be considering a permanent position for the adviser in his administration.

"I'm not sure that he would want to stay permanently. That is one of the toughest jobs in America," McCain said of Gates' role in his Cabinet. "I did like for him to at least stay on for a while while we arrange whatever transition may be necessary.

McCain Says Obama Part of the 'Liberal Left'

If elected, McCain said that he would seek the advise of a long line of respected experts from Henry Kissinger to George Schultz, and would include "a lot of Democrats" within a McCain administration.

Obama also told Gibson in an interview earlier this week that his Cabinet would be bipartisan.

"I think the key now, restoring trust and confidence," McCain said. "How do you do that? By having trusted and respected people in your government."

Job creation would be an important part of McCain's economic plan, he said, and he criticized Obama's tax proposal as a sign that he's "in the far left lane."

"He said he was going to raise capital gains taxes even if it decreased revenues because it's a matter of fairness," McCain said of Obama's tax plan. "He has said time after time that we got to have a redistributive scenario in our economy. That's not right. That's the liberal left."

McCain said that thanks to Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, known on the trail as Joe the Plumber, Americans are finally learning the truth in the final days that Obama wants to "redistribute the wealth." McCain said that Obama's plan will tax 50 percent of small business income in America, a point that the Obama campaign disputes.

"If our economy is in the tank as it is today, to raise anyone's taxes is a terrible thing," McCain said. "[Obama's tax plan] is a repetition of the days of Herbert Hoover.

"It's not an accident that he's in the far-left lane. That's what he's judged as, the most liberal senator in the United States Senate," McCain said.

McCain, who supported the financial rescue plan and suspended his campaign to return to Washington and help resolve the financial crisis expressed deep "disappointment" that home ownership was largely overlooked.

About $125 billion from the $700 billion financial rescue package has been allocated to nine troubled banks, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, according to the Treasury Department, which may be put to use for dividends, or acquisition of other banks.

McCain said that the Treasury and Bush administration failed by not putting home ownership first.

"I think that the secretary of the treasury and the administration have failed from a PR standpoint by not putting homeownership first and telling the American people that's first," McCain said. "And second of all, by not saying we're going to get out of the banking business. We're going to stop these bonuses. We're going to stop this excess and greed that's going on.

When asked if Congress was misled about the allocation of funds from the bailout, McCain said, "I can't say that they were lied to. But I was under the distinct knowledge when I talked to Secretary Paulson that homeownership would be the highest priority. That was the idea that I had."

Focus on Turnout, Battleground States in Final Stretch

McCain has spent two days courting voters in Ohio this week, in a state that his campaign has pinpointed as critical to his success with 20 electoral votes.

Despite trailing in national polls and in a number of states that George W. Bush won in 2004, McCain said he believed that "the enthusiasm is there" and that he was focused on voter turnout.

"The pundits have written us off four or five times in this campaign," McCain said. "They're probably going to, some of them have written me off again. We are coming back strong. I have been in enough campaigns. I see this kind of enthusiasm and this kind of turnout. I can sense it. I can feel it more than my internal polls, which are very good."

Before the final weekend, McCain held a Road to Victory rally in Hanoverton, Ohio, and campaigned with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Columbus, Ohio.

Come Election Day, McCain said he will be satisfied that "We have fought the good fight.

"I have served my country all my life," he said. "And this has been a humbling experience to be able to have the opportunity to serve."