McCain Blasts Clinton
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, November 26, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Presidential hopeful John McCain doesn't hold back telling voters exactly how he feels - whether they like it or not.
The Republican senator from Arizona conducted one of his "straight talk" town meetings with a packed audience Tuesday night at Hampton Academy Junior High.
The two biggest issues on the minds of residents at the forum were the two issues some say have hurt McCain's campaign: His stance on illegal immigration and the war in Iraq.
McCain once again justified his support for continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, while criticizing how the war was handled under former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
He said the troop escalation over the past year has been effective and setting a timeline to withdraw troops would cause "chaos" in the region. "I'd much rather lose a campaign than a war," McCain said.
McCain said he still believes in the immigration plan that failed in Congress earlier this year. But he said he realizes none of its components, including allowing millions of illegal immigrants to earn legal status, will work unless the borders are secure.
"I got the message," McCain said. "We need to secure the borders. I will secure the borders before we do anything."
When one resident asked what he would accomplish in his first 100 days in office, McCain rattled off a long list.
He said his first priority would be to protect the nation's security by addressing radical Islamic extremism. Second on his list is to restore trust and confidence in the government, including a plan to stop wasteful spending and corruption.
He blasted New York's Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton for backing a $1 million appropriation for a Woodstock memorial and vowed to veto any frivolous spending bill with a pen given to him by former President Ronald Reagan.
"I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event," McCain said. "I wasn't there. I was tied up at the time."
A Navy pilot, McCain was shot down in 1967 and spent 5½ years in a North Vietnamese prison.
McCain also said he would ensure the United States would not torture a prisoner of war under his power and he would fight to limit mankind's effects on climate change.
After the forum, Mary Boynton, a Hampton Republican, said she was impressed with McCain but still wasn't ready to say he's her candidate. But when asked how McCain is doing with the Republican base, Boynton said, "He's the comeback kid.
"His new strategy is working," Boynton said. "Especially when you hear what the other candidates are saying about him as far as his honor and integrity. They cannot approach John McCain on those subjects."
Richard Reniere said he's a registered Democrat but wanted to hear what McCain had to say, especially on the war in Iraq.
"I went to the meeting to listen to what he had to say," Reniere said. "I thought he was very articulate but I was looking for some different answers. I wanted something more definitive from him on what our goals are in Iraq and how we are going to achieve those goals."