Here are some details from the conference call I just had with Senator John McCain. On last night’s results, the Senator was quick to point out that negative campaigning had worked against Mitt Romney, and that he hoped Romney would drop the tactic, as he’s not interested in going tit-for-tat from here on. Although, he never said he wouldn’t go tit-for-tat, and later in the call acknowledged that going negative can move campaigns along.
What’s most evident was the Senator’s embracing the “agent of change” mantra, of which every candidate has recently wanted to take partial ownership. In McCain’s case, the claim is particularly credible. He was pushing for a change in Iraq strategy while most Republicans were still blaming the bad news solely on the press. He pointed out that he proposed scrapping the Rumsfeld plan so early on that John Edwards took to labeling the troop surge “the McCain surge.” As a proponent of the most critical change in recent U.S. foreign affairs, the Senator should be able to point to the success of the troop surge and embarrass both Democrats and Republicans into dropping the whole change angle.
He was exhilarated about his townhall meeting with Joe Lieberman last night, calling it the highlight of his political career. The Senator emphasized that Lieberman is an independent Democrat, while pointing out that this bi-partisan townhall meeting was a first, as far as he knew. A bit later he stressed that he’s the only Republican talked about as being attractive to independent voters, and added that this bodes well in a general election. I pointed out that one could surmise that a McCain-Lieberman ticket is something he’s more than casually mulling around. Senator McCain said that vice presidential predictions are good fun and games, but, in any case, Lieberman would certainly play a large national security role in a McCain presidency. He pointed to Senator Lieberman’s assessment of the Iranian threat as particularly indicative of his keen sense on national security. “But right now, I just came in third,” he said. “After I win on February 5, we’ll revisit this conversation.” That conversation may come courtesy of Mitt Romney.