In defeat, words of graciousness for the victor Barack Obama from John McCain in Phoenix, Arizona last night.
SENATOR JOHN McCAIN:
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance, but that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
In the end, it was not something John McCain achieved; he was defeated by Barack Obama yesterday. So whither John McCain, a character who's been on the American political scene for quite some time and unexpectedly got the Republican nomination?
To talk about this character in a state that is known for creating conservative icons in America, is Matt Bunk, Managing Editor of Arizona Capital Times. He joins us from Phoenix. Matt, where does John McCain go from here? And thanks for joining us this morning.
Oh, well, thank you for having me on. It's my pleasure. Yeah, that's a good question. There were some hints, I guess in the concession speech tonight here in Arizona that made some folks wonder if he was considering not running in 2010 for his Senate seat again. You know, I have no idea whether that's the case or not. Certainly that's an option that you know, we've all been considering.
Senator McCain's 72 years old and you know, after you've, you know, made a run for the president – presidency and, and you've been in Congress for 27 years, you, you wonder if he's gonna make another return.
But you know, people have counted out John McCain before and you know, that's not always been - you know, very smart because he's always shown that he's, he's got more life in him left than people think and he might be, he might be back in 2010.
Well, Matt, you've covered him. Is he likely to respond to something like this with bitterness and, and feel that it's a real setback or does he launch into some sort of alternative new legislative career?
Well, you know, John McClain [sic] - John McCain's a classy guy. He's got a lot of resilience. He's shown that throughout, you know, his life and all of his experiences. Tonight in his speech, everybody kind of walked away thinking that that was -- he said some really pointed, some really precise things that -- some really good things about Barack Obama after a hard-fought campaign that were kind of music to people's ears.
You know, I'm not really sure what to expect from John McCain from this point forward. I think a lot of Arizonans are asking themselves the same question. He's, you know, from this point, you know, I think in the next week or so, he said the first thing he's gonna do is go take a long walk in the desert and just take some time to himself. So I think he's gonna be answering some of those questions that - in the next week or two for himself.
Well, I hope he takes his sunscreen with him, that's for sure because there is, you know, a question about his health, his age, that - all of that. Arizona has a reputation for creating conservative icons.
I mean the Goldwater story was, after '64, he was something of a laughing stock, yet he also seeded the Reagan revolution in his ideological approach. Any chance McCain will repeat that sort of story?
You know, it's possible. You know, McCain has - you know, he's, he's sort of, in a way, taken the party in a different direction, or tried to. It, it remains to be seen how successful he'll be in the long run I guess with that.
I, I know here in Arizona, there were two different factions, at least a couple of different factions very split on, on John McCain and, and the Republican Party in general.
Conservatives not necessarily that thrilled with John McCain the last couple of years here in Arizona and I suspect probably across the country, that's the case. You know, he, he didn't make a lot of friends on the bill that he co-sponsored with Ted Kennedy in 2006 with the illegal immigration, basically providing a road to citizenship for the illegal immigrants who had been here.
And you know, that upset a lot of folks here in Arizona. And a couple of things he's done throughout his 27-year tenure in Congress that hasn't sat well with - with some of the conservatives. So that - on that note, you know, it's interesting to see, you know, how the party will reshape itself after he's - you know, after this run.
Matt, when you say that John McCain was trying to take the party in a certain direction, what direction would you describe it?
Well, you know, for, for a long time, John McCain was one of the more moderate voices on a lot of the issues that, you know, social issues. He wasn't very outspoken on - on abortion, at least not as outspoken as some of his conservative colleagues back here in Arizona would have wished he would have been.
You know, gay marriage, he, he sort of allowed that one to be - he, he voted to allow the states to handle whether or not to allow gay marriage rather than, than go forward with some sort of a federal ban or taking some federal action on it.
And that made some folks here mad too. So, you know, everything from those things to illegal immigration, you know, I, I think he was, he was just - during those years, you know, he, he earned his name of "maverick" and I think he was doing some of those things.
And you know, certainly people here - there, there were definitely two sides of the Republican Party, and depending on who you talk to -
If you're going to be a maverick, you're got to be a winner, Patrik -
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
PATRIK HENRY BASS:
Well, John, actually there were 3 or 4 or 5 faces of John McCain that we saw in the last few months. I mean who is the real John McCain?
Well, that's sort of the problem. I think with - you know, and I apologize to jump in here but I guess that's kind of one of the central points I noticed while on the campaign trail was, was that John McCain seemed to be trying to appease too many different segments of the voting population.
And sometimes these guys have competing, competing interests. And you know, oftentimes, the maverick who, who appealed to a lot of moderates and independent voters was off the last few months, doing things to try to, you know, appease his - his conservative base and try to shore things up and it, you know, tears things apart when you try to do that from different angles.
Well, you also make a larger point, Matt. The 47 percent of Americans who voted for John McCain - that is a constituency that is apparently not going to hold. The question is, could any candidate have held it in this election cycle? Matt Bunk, Managing Editor of Arizona Capital Times. Thanks so much for joining us.
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