WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain says he's "puzzled" that there's a controversy surrounding remarks he made suggesting illegal immigrants were responsible for some of the massive wildfire in eastern Arizona.
McCain tells NBC's "Today" show all he was doing was repeating information he'd been given by federal officials at a briefing that occurred before he appeared at a news conference last weekend.
McCain said in an interview Tuesday, "We all know that people who come across our border illegally ... that these fires are sometimes, some of them, caused by this." He said "I'm puzzled .. that there should be any controversy."
McCain earlier had said that illegal immigrants "have set fires because they wanted to signal others ... and they have set fires because they wanted to divert law enforcement agents."
McCain also brushed aside any questions about whether he might ultimately decide to run for president again in 2012.
McCain was asked whether he'd get into the sweepstakes if it looked like there were no clear front-runner.
The Arizona Republican smiled and told interviewer Ann Curry, "There's a long history of masochism in my family, but none so severe" as to make him want to run again.
McCain's comment came on the same day that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was getting ready to formally enter the race, becoming the eighth candidate to officially declare. McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008 in a race that was not close.
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