John McCain had a blogger conference call this afternoon. Jim Geraghty has a good account of it.
McCain’s opening remarks were brief, with nearly all of the time spent on questions and answers. In his opening, McCain talked about what he saw in Iraq, and touched very briefly on his campaign’s recent problems, which he characterized as spending too much compared to the money on hand. McCain took full responsibility for this. He said he regretted parting with people who are, and will remain, his friends.
Nearly all of the questions were about Iraq, not the campaign. McCain’s core assessment is similar to the administration’s — the effort to improve security is making good progress, but results on the political side have been disappointing. McCain didn’t say whether he shares the administration’s confidence that the political situation will improve when (if) the security situation does. However, his comments about Prime Minister Maliki suggested that he may see obstacles to political progress beyond and in addition to the formidable one posed by insecurity and sectarian violence.
McCain was guardedly optimistic at best about the political situation here in Washington. He acknowledged that it will be difficult to retain 40 votes in support of the administration given the apparent defection of Domenici, Luger, et al. McCain thinks lots of persuasion will be required in September, including the need for General Petraeus to explain the consequences of a significant troop withdrawal at that time.
Though not a McCain supporter, I remain a McCain admirer, and never more than today. He sounded tired (who wouldn’t be) and maybe a little bit discouraged. But he remains a warrior, and the clearest most reliable voice in our political class on the most important issue of our time.
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