Lauding himself as the most truthful of the Republican presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., worked to rally support in a final effort to win over New Hampshire voters before the upcoming primary in a speech given at the Top of the Hop Monday afternoon.
“We’ve come a long way back and that’s because we told the people of New Hampshire the truth,” McCain said. “You can’t buy an election in the state of New Hampshire. I hope that I have earned your respect.”
McCain encouraged voters to do as much as they could to support him in the final hours before the first-in-nation primaries.
“I’m asking you to call your friends; I’m asking you to do the things that win elections,” he said.
The presidential hopeful spoke at length about the threat of ‘Islamo-fascist extremism,’ identifying it as one of the most grave issues facing the United States today.
“[Islamo-fascist extremists] are the greatest force of evil perhaps we have ever confronted,” he said.
The senator added that the U.S. has made progress fighting these extremists in Iraq and criticized Democrats who had favored setting a timeline for withdrawing troops.
McCain said that had the government decided to pull American troops out of Iraq, “Al-Qaeda would be saying they defeated the United States of America and they didn’t then and they never will.”
In addition, McCain underscored his positions on climate change and political corruption, as well as his foreign policy record, claiming 20 years of experience in dealing with national security issues.
He spoke optimistically about America’s ability to prevent climate change, discussing the possibility of expanding the use of nuclear power in the U.S.
“We can unleash American technology,” he said. “There’s a whole range of things we can do, and one of them is nuclear power.”
McCain acknowledged that there is controversy surrounding the energy source, but cited the existence of American naval ships that contain nuclear power plants and the fact that 80 percent of French electricity is generated by nuclear power as proof of its safety.
“I’m going to give you a cleaner planet — I promise you that,” McCain said.
The senator continued by protesting corrupt congressional spending.
“We have mortgaged your futures” he said, addressing the young people in the audience. “If we don’t fix things, you’re not going to have social security, you’re not going to have Medicare when you retire.”
McCain pointed to the $255 million that Congress has approved for a “bridge to an island with 50 people living on it” in Alaska as an example of the types of government spending he would like to prevent.
“I’m going to veto every pork barrel spending bill,” he said.
McCain kept his speech short, light and routine. In one aside, he quoted Ronald Reagan as saying, “Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, except that I never knew any sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination of congress.”
McCain added that once, after he mentioned that quote, he received an angry e-mail from a drunken sailer who felt insulted to be compared to Congress, an anecdote McCain has used often while on the campaign trail.
McCain was accompanied by his wife and daughters, as well as by Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vt., who introduced and endorsed McCain’s run for the presidency.