McCain discusses war, trade and the election
By Mary Beth Schneider
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, making only his second campaign trip to Indiana, promised Tuesday to return to seek Hoosier votes, one of several issues he touched on during an interview with The Indianapolis Star.
Question: Sen. Barack Obama, the apparent Democratic nominee, has raised twice as much money from Indiana. His campaign is running ads and putting staff in here. Polls have him a little ahead or in a virtual tie. What are you going to do to make sure you don't become the first Republican since Barry Goldwater to lose Indiana?
Answer: That's an unhappy legacy. (Laughs.) I am confident we will win here, but we have a lot of work to do. We're just putting our state organization in place, and we will be doing what media we need to do and organizing what we need to do. And I'll be here to campaign. But I'm also very grateful for the support of (Gov.) Mitch Daniels and (Attorney General) Steve Carter and (former Sen.) Dan Coats and all of the people who are so widely respected who will also help energize our volunteers as well as our organization.
Q: You will hold campaign events here?
Q: You go from here to Colombia to talk trade. You were also in Canada to talk about NAFTA. . . . Many Hoosiers feel NAFTA cost them jobs and income. What would you say to show them NAFTA was good for them?
A: Well, the facts show that. But the important thing is to tell the people that in this information-technology revolution that we're going through, I will make sure that they are provided with sufficient training and education to have better kinds of employment than what they had before. I'll also try to point out the benefits that have accrued from free trade. There has been increases in jobs. There's been other benefits. . . .
I am a defender of free trade. There's some things that are very important. And among those are standing on the principles that you believe in.
Q: Indiana has seen its largest troop deployment since World War II. A lot of people do think it's time for those troops to come home. What would you say to them?
A: I'd say to them our troops will come home with honor and victory, and not with defeat. Again, I said a long time ago I'd much rather lose a political campaign than lose a war.
The surge is succeeding. If we'd done what Senator Obama wanted to do, we'd risk a wider war, increased chaos in the region, increased influence on the part of the Iranians, and Americans might have to go back. That's what the choice is. And Senator Obama was wrong when he said the surge wouldn't succeed, and he's wrong today when he says that it hasn't succeeded.
Q: When Hoosiers go into the polls, what one issue do you want to have them consider before they vote?
A: Can they trust me with the stewardship of this nation to restore its prosperity and make it secure? The issues of this campaign are reform, prosperity and peace. I am more qualified than my opponent, I believe, in every way. And I'll look forward to that debate, and I hope the people of Indiana will ask Senator Obama to come to Indiana and have us both appear at a town-hall meeting. So far he has refused to do that anywhere, after saying he'd go anyplace, anytime.
Q: There's been a lot of talk lately about patriotism. Do you consider Senator Obama to be a patriot?
A: Sure. I admire and respect him, and I admire and respect his wife, too. It's that we have dramatically different views about how we can address the challenges that America faces.