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Liveblogging the McCain Blogger Call

Sarkozy: "He's the first real pro-American I've met since LaFayette."

(Heh, I don't think he was implying he's met LaFayette, and I wasn't making an "old" joke. Promise.)

"We are making progress militarily; we are not making progress politically. It's not making process as a inclusive government rather than a Shia government, and that's disappointing."


"It's well-known to everyone now that we had serious problems in the campaign, I think, financial problems. I'm responsible for those problems, and I think we're back on track to get our spending in line with our income, which it clearly was not...

The responsibility is mine and mine alone and I'm very sorry that I had to part company with some people who I'm very close and dear friends with and who I will remain friends with.

Come September, I'll be doing the townhall meetings, the face-to-face campaigning that worked for us before and I'm confident that we can do very well."

When we authorized the conflict it was to win it or to lose it. To say now we have to reauthorize is something I'd have trouble joining in on, though I have great respect for Warner and Lugar.

Why do you have optimism at all that the current government in Iraq will get its act together at all?

"It was disappointing to sit there with Maliki and tell him how important it was and have my comment basically deflected.

I think that we still have an opportunity for them to move forward.

They have not shown the kind of progress that you'd think would be in their self-interest.

I would hope that they're sort of staring at the abyss.

I'll continue to hold out some hope that they will realize how critical this is to, frankly, their existence and we'll move forward."
How do we even know when we've won?

"That's history and it's been well-written [the first, failed approach to the war].

I think we will know if, in September, Petraues can say these are the places where we succeeded, here's where we failed...Then, we'll kind of have a judgement of they've made enough progress...

Then we have to pursue a set of very difficult-to-implement alternate strategies....

There is no good option that over time wouldn't make things worse than they are today and require more sacrifice than we've already had to be a part of...

I think there's still a pretty good group of Americans...who will be willing to remain in this course of action because [they see all the options would be disastrous]....
Campaign debt?

"There are debts, and the FEC report is coming out Sunday...Honestly, I don't know the specifics of it...but in a couple days, we will have more specifics. Sorry I don't have more specifics."
How are you doing?

"In the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it's totally black. (laughing)

Our hope is, in most places, they don't care as much about some of the aspects of campaigning as us political junkies do. So, I'm okay."
Was this week a win or loss in Iraq debate?

"I think we were successful in beating back the amendments. The best shot was the Webb amendment, which sounds very good, but it's also the most dangerous."

"They keep saying to me, 'What's your Plan B? I would say to them, 'What's your Plan B?"

These are very tough times. It's very tough when you lose [high-profile votes like Lugar and Domenici].

I'm guardedly optimistic that we can maintain 41 votes."

"I think some people, in order to just buy time, have put too much emphasis on September...

I agree with you. September is not that far away...

If I were the bad guys, right around Labor Day, I'd be setting off a bunch of bombs, and I'm not sure we can prevent that. I'm not sure we can't prevent it, but I'm concerned that September is the determining time."
Would you step away from campaign to make a difference on Iraq in the Senate?

"As you know, this past week, I was on the floor of the Senate the whole time managing this defense bill. I will do whatever is necessary, including taking time off in September from the campaign...

I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war...

For people like me, who have nothing to sacrifice, to bail on them because I might lose a campaign is something that would make it hard for me to shave in the morning."
What can you do to be that Reagan Republican since the Republican Party is looking for that in '08?

"We just totally dispirited our base with the spending and the corruption that goes on...

Our base became dispirited and didn't do the things you have to do to win an election...

Spending, spending, spending, spending, and expansion in the size of government...

I think that's something I can talk about to convince Republicans that McCain is legit despite some serious concerns we have about them..."

Your campaign has turned into a longshot. What are you going to do if the front-runners are soft on the war? Go back to the Senate and lose the campaign rather than the war, as you mentioned? How do you implement that philosophy?

"I have to go back to the Senate if Iraq is on the table...

I'm not gonna say that would necessarily doom my candidacy; maybe it would generate some respect that I stand up for what I believe in. Hasn't worked so far, but...

I still think there's  large segment of Republicans out there who believe that losing and setting a date for withdrawal would be disastrous...

If I can do a better job in debates of pointing that out, I think it would help my performance....

I have no illusions as to how much both immigration and the war have affected...But I'd like you to come up and go to one of these townhall meetings with me...

They're enthusiastic; they gave me a standing ovation, and that's what the primaries are about, so I'm confident we can do okay."
McCain sounded quite a bit dispirited, himself, laughing darkly during his answers to most of the campaign questions.

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