Sunday, July 16, 2006

McCain supports McSweeney at 8th CD Press Conference

Senator John McCain [R-AZ] joined David McSweeney, Republican Nominee in the 8th Cong. Dist., on Saturday for a late afternoon press conference at the Wingate Inn, located in Schaumburg, IL. That event was followed by a fundraising dinner featuring Senator McCain, a potential Republican candidate for President in 2008. The funder, hosted by Tom Fitzgerald, brother of former Senator Peter Fitzgerald [who was also to attend], at Tom’s home in Barrington Hills, was expected to draw more than one hundred twenty five McSweeney supporters and raise more than one hundred twenty five thousand dollars for the 40 year old former investment banker.

The press conference was attended by, in addition to suburban and Chicago media members, about forty McSweeney volunteers, supporters and staff. Both McCain and McSweeney made initial statements, but the media’s questions were directed at Senator McCain. McCain, although 70 years old, appears to be the front-runner to become the Republicans’ Presidential Nominee in 2008, and he dodged, in good nature, a few questions on that topic.

Senator McCain, who started out in the House, has been in the Congress for almost a quarter of a century and prior to that, McCain served twenty two years as a naval aviator, including 5 ½ years as a POW at what was known at the time as the Hanoi Hilton—after McCain was shot down during the Vietnam War. Suffice it to say that being a POW in North Vietnam was no trip to the beach and yet, or perhaps because of that awful experience with torture in Vietnam, McCain has been a critic of the idea of any kind of torture by America of detained terrorists.

A number of the questions at the press conference focused on the current Middle East crisis, with an emphasis on the apparent role of Iran in creating and driving it, and the options that the United States and its allies have to deal with it. Also covered were the issues of energy, immigration, differences between McSweeney and the Democratic incumbent, Melissa Bean, McCain’s potential run for President, the Bush tax cuts, pork barrel spending, the ’06 elections, stem cell research and the Ronald Reagan 80 % rule.
A partial transcript of the press conference is included below.
Jeff Berkowitz: Senator McCain.

Senator John McCain [R-AZ]: Sure.

Berkowitz: It sounds like you agree with what Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard has been saying—that the problem here is with Iran for sponsoring Hezbollah, but he [Kristol] also quoted [Defense Secretary] Don Rumsfeld as saying, “Weakness is provocative,” suggesting that the United States has been too weak with respect to Iran. Do you agree?

Senator McCain: I think that this Administration has handled a very difficult situation regards Iran as well as we could. The focus up to now has obviously been on Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. We have stayed with our European allies and kept them with us as we go to the UN Security Council. We have known and this Administration has known of Iranian involvement in southern Iraq and their increasing influence there- the problems they have created there. But, I am not sure what else we could have done. Now, we obviously have reason to get tougher with Iran. I have said on several occasions it would be a terrible thing for us to have to intervene militarily because of Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons. There would be only one thing worse and that would be Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Berkowitz: …Should the Unites States consider that in the next year—taking military action to avoid facing a nuclear armed Iran?

Senator McCain: I think I can only repeat my previous statement but I think the President has made it very clear our position on this issue, including his statement that we cannot stand by and watch Israel destroyed by Iran
And obviously if they develop nuclear weapons, they would certainly have the capability to do that.

Berkowitz: And, you know that Israel is now claiming that Iranian military are now in Lebanon.

Senator McCain: The drone that struck the Israeli ship could hot have been achieved—either acquired or operated by Hezbollah, alone. It had to have Iranian involvement in it. Serious Iranian involvement in it. So, I don’t think there is any doubt in any Expert’s mind that the Iranians are heavily involved with the equipping and training of Hezbollah, including many of those rockets that are being fired, as we speak, into Haifa and other cities are Iranian made.
Press Conference with Senator McCain and 8th CD Republican Nominee David McSweeney, July 15, 2006