McCain's, Er, Evolving Views on Mitt Romney

Sen. John McCain appeared in New Hampshire - his political wheelhouse, where he won the Republican primary twice - to endorse a former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney today in this year's nominating contest.

The Arizona senator delivered a stem-winder of a speech, criticizing President Obama for hurting the economy and saying that under Romney, Americans would not have a President who "leads from behind."

Needless to say, Senator McCain was not the biggest fan of Mitt Romney when they were running against each other in 2008 for the GOP nomination. And despite his endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor today, back then it sometimes seemed pretty personal.

The book Game Change reports that "McCain routinely called Romney an 'a$$hole' and a 'f!@#%ng phony'" in private.

McCain was less profane in public, though not particularly flattering:

On Good Morning America in October 2007, McCain said, "His record when he was in Massachusetts had many positions, most positions are direct contradictions to the ones he proclaims now, including being ardently being pro-choice, including saying he didn't want to go back to the Reagan-Bush years, which is obviously not something that most Republicans believe in, and supporting Democrats for various offices. So look, this debate is about our records, this is about being honest with the American people, and if you're really going to get their respect, I think you've got to respect them first."

See that 2007 interview here: (starting at about 3:30)

"It's not just the abortion issue, although he certainly was passionate in his advocacy for being pro-choice," McCain said on Face the Nation in October 2007. "I mean, look at literally every major issue, whether it be immigration reform or taxes or immigration or any other issue. There has been changes in his position and perhaps all of those are evolved. But I think that that brings to mind the question is, isn't consistency on fundamental issues an important factor in this race? And I don't think that consistency has been there."

And in Manchester, New Hampshire, that month, McCain told voters, "As we all know, when he ran for office in Massachusetts being a Republican wasn't much of a priority for him," McCain said. "In fact, when he ran against Ted Kennedy, he said he didn't want to return to the days of Reagan-Bush. I always thought Ronald Reagan was a real Republican."

"When Governor Romney donated money to a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans…When he voted for a Democratic candidate for President, Paul Tsongas, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans. When he refused to endorse the Contract with America, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans. And when he was embracing the Democratic position on many major issues of the day, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans…So you'll understand why I'm a little perplexed when Mitt Romney now suggests that he's a better Republican than me or that he speaks for the Republican wing of the Republican Party."

McCain went on to win in New Hampshire in 2008. Not too long after, he got Romney's endorsement on Valentine's Day 2008.