Sen. John McCain says he would like to see the primary season end “as soon as possible,” so Republicans can focus on their primary target — President Barack Obama. The Arizona Republican also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren he is backing Mitt Romney in part because the former Massachusetts governor would work to end congressional earmarks, which has long been a McCain cause célèbre.
Van Susteren asked whether McCain is surprised there remains considerable indecision over who the GOP nominee will be this far into the primary process.
“I think it’s kind of expected, particularly since the process has been strung out — and also, there’s a number of primaries where it isn’t winner take all, like it used to be,” McCain said. “But from a pure partisan standpoint, I’d like to see it over as soon as possible. The adversary is President Obama, and the sooner we focus on that, I think the better off we’re going to be.”
Van Susteren noted McCain is supporting Romney, but added the two Republicans differ on thwarting illegal immigration and the former Massachusetts governor’s call for self-deportation — particularly as Arizona is a border state and a major gateway for those illegally entering the country.
“What I think Mitt was talking about was that there are some people who may want to return. But he also is emphasizing — and I’m very happy to say — the humane side of this issue, that it is a humane issue and we’ve got be humane about it,” McCain said. “But I tell you this: I feel very strongly that I’m tired of the drugs coming across the border and up across through the mountainous area of my state into Phoenix to be distributed around the country.
“I’m tired of people being held in drop houses and held for ransom by these coyotes, who are the cruelest,” he continued. “So when you hear all this about immigration, sometimes you don’t hear that side of the story, too, which is gross violations of human rights and drugs being brought into our country, which is killing our American citizens.”
McCain also said he supports Romney because, although he has respect for the other candidates, Romney has the closest stance to his on eliminating earmarks and he has other issues with some of the hopefuls.
“Well, in the case of Ron Paul, obviously, we have strong differences on national security issues — that's very plain,” McCain said. “In the case of both Senator [Rick] Santorum and Speaker [Newt] Gingrich, we have a strong disagreement on earmarks. Earmarks are the gateway drug to corruption — that's Tom Coburn’s phrase.
“And there was a dramatic increase in earmarks under Speaker Gingrich — there was the corruption that ended up with members of Congress in prison . . . and I fought against it — and Speaker Gingrich called me and those of us who fought against it, ‘the perfectionist caucus’ — I’m proud of being a perfectionist,” he said, adding he is “positive” Romney would carry out his view on earmarks.
“I want to say I respect anybody who’s running — I know how tough it is — so I respect Senator Santorum, and Speaker Gingrich, and Ron Paul,” McCain said. “I just have a strong belief that Mitt Romney’s background — knowledge, experience, and I believe, vision of this nation’s requirements both economically and national security-wise — qualify him to be president.”
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