During the hours I spent on the Straight Talk Express last Saturday, Senator McCain talked not just about a wide range of subjects, but also a wide range of people — from Gen. MacArthur to Joe DiMaggio. Some of these people are his rivals for the Republican nomination. Here is what he said about them:
Mitt Romney. Romney was the only candidate McCain mentioned without prompting by a question. McCain commented, “I hear Romney is talking about Iraq now. Thing must really be going well over there.”
Fred Thompson. Asked whether he and Thompson disagreed over any policy issues when Thompson traveled with him on the Straight Talk Express during the 2000 race, McCain said, “no.” The way McCain answered suggested that he believes Thompson has re-invented himself somewhat for purposes of this campaign.
Rudy Giuliani. Asked about Giuliani’s penchant for praising McCain during debates, McCain said that he and Rudy are friends. He recalled that they attended every game of the 2001 World Series together (it was between McCain’s Diamondbacks and Giuliani’s Yankees). McCain said that he has a very serious disagreement with Giuliani over the torture issue, but is confident they will remain friends when the race is over.
Ron Paul. In response to a question, McCain said he didn’t see Paul as having a major impact on the race, but acknowledged that he didn’t think Paul could raise anywhere close to $4 million on the internet either. Obviously, Paul is tapping into real discontent, McCain added, but he still doesn’t think Paul will be much of a factor.
JOHN adds: What I really want to know is what McCain had to say about MacArthur and Joe DiMaggio.
PAUL responds: Not much positive in either case. Based on Richard Ben Cramer’s biography of Joltin’ Joe, McCain sees DiMaggio as an extremely strange and unpleasant fellow. McCain is a Ted Williams man all the way, and actually talked to Williams about DiMaggio. Williams told him they hated each other during their playing days but reconciled somewhat afterwards. McCain’s admiration of Williams has much to do, of course, with the “Splinter’s” skill and heroism as a wartime pilot.
McCain believes that MacArthur crossed the line a military man is obligated to observe and entered the realm of politics while still on active duty. He also faults some of MacArthur’s key assessments during the Korean War.
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