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McCain: Campaign 'About Reforming the Republican Party'

Location: CNN Morning News

HEADLINE: Sen. McCain: Campaign 'About Reforming the Republican Party'
GUESTS: Sen. John McCain
BYLINE: Daryn Kagan, John King


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Daryn. We are outside a VFW Hall, where Senator McCain has just completed a pancake breakfast with some of his fellow veterans.

Senator, in your remarks, you said that you would go on to California, despite the results here, but you also said, if we win here, I don't see how we can really be stopped. Why is that the case?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it's an important state. I think it would show that new Hampshire and South Carolina, that doesn't mean it isn't going to be very competitive all the way up to March 7. But I think it will give us a very significant boost. I think this is going to be a very close election. All of the polls say, you know, it is going to be a toss- up. That is up from 20 points down a couple of weeks ago. I am Very excited, very exuberant. Went to Clemson last night, 4,000 students showed up. So I am feeling very good, but it is going to be a very close race.

KING: In a new TV ad, you compare yourself to Ronald Reagan, and your appeal to independents and Democrats. Governor Bush has been trying to discourage Democrats from voting here, saying that somehow they are going to choose the Republican nominees. Why do you focus so much on that issue, is it because you are thinking ahead to the fall, or is it because he leads you among traditional Republicans.

MCCAIN: We won in New Hampshire with Republicans, and I am sure we can win with Republicans here. But the whole meaning of governing, the whole meaning of representation is to reach out to people who support your views and principles and ideals and include the. We used to proudly called them the Reagan Democrats. And I would love to reassemble that coalition.

Look, this is about reforming the Republican Party. This is about making us an inclusive party that will restore the coalitions that Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were able to achieve. That is what this campaign is all about. I am proud if any citizen would come out and vote for me that is eligible.

KING: It's not an issue that comes up much on the campaign trail, but there has been much attention in recent days because of several incidents on Internet security. Your committee in Congress, the Senate Commerce Committee, deals with some of these issues. What should the federal role be, if any, in dealing with this issue now?

MCCAIN: The federal role has got to be very active. Obviously, we are interfering with the engine of out nation's economy. This is a very serious issue. I am please to see the president taking very vigorous action on it, and the Congress should also be heavily involved in this as well.

KING: The book signings, appearances as VFW Halls, obviously fellow veterans critical to your success here and across the country. What do you say to them and why are they so important to you?

MCCAIN: Well, I say I am going to restore their benefits, their pride in the military, take 12,000 enlisted proud young men and women off food stamps, give them a military that they can be proud of. But most of all, I am the steady hand on the tiller. I am the one that's fully prepared to be commander in chief, and that's important.

KING: Last questions, a lot of focus on Governor Bush's resources in recent days, do you have the resources to go on?

MCCAIN: It's remarkable, he has raised more and spent more that any presidential campaign in history, and we are being fairly competitive here at the end. It is really quite a remarkable story. We've gotten almost $3 million over the Internet since the New Hampshire primary, that's We are having a great time, John.

KING: We thank you for joining us.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

KING: Thanks very much.

MCCAIN: Great to see you.

KING: The senator is on now to Greenville. Daryn, back to you.

KAGAN: John King, in Spartanburg, thank you.

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