Presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain expressed optimism regarding his ability to unite the Republican Party, progress in Iraq and the prosecution of terrorists in Guantanamo Bay in a conference call Wednesday morning.
Tuesday evening, McCain swept the “Potomac primary” contests in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia over the long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee, with substantial, but not overwhelming, margins.
A bloc of conservative and evangelical voters turned out to support Huckabee although he is far behind in the delegate count. McCain, considered a moderate by many conservatives said, “I understand I have a lot of work to do to unite that party and that’s part of the process we to through. Primaries are tough and sometimes it takes a long time to unite, but I’m confident all of us will.”
He mentioned that he had addressed House Republicans that morning and pledged that if he won the Republican nomination he would campaign aggressively with them to help regain the House majority.
McCain also said he had spoken with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R.-S.C.) who was in Iraq. “They just passed a law that calls for the things we wanted,” McCain said. Those items included a budget, a provincial election law and a limited amnesty bill.
“Those are the things we have been asking the Iraqi government to do.”
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) opposed President Bush’s “surge” of troops to Iraq and have said on the campaign trail many times it would be impossible to make political progress in Iraq.
“The same people who said we couldn’t succeed militarily said this couldn’t happen,” McCain said referring to the news Graham had given him. “They were wrong on both counts, and I hope they will own up to their absolutely wrong assessment of Iraq.”
When asked if he had “concerns” about the judicial process used in the Pentagon’s decision to seek the death penalty for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, McCain said “no.”
“These are not individuals who deserve protection and the kind of judicial process that citizens in the United States would have,” McCain said. “We did not give those same rights during the Nuremberg trials or to Japanese war criminals after World War II.”
“Some of these people are the most evil people in the world who have ever appeared o the face of this Earth,” he said. “There is nothing in the Geneva Convention or in the rule of law that says the same rights and privileges apply to them as they do to United States citizens.”