Presidential candidate John McCain suggests that since he and rival Rudy Giuliani are skipping the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll in August, it invalidates the results — making a win at the Straw Poll for another candidate meaningless.
"After Mayor Giuliani, who is either in the lead or close to it in the view of most people, dropped out and others are dropping out, we thought it was not going to be a very valid process and so we decided that we’d focus all our attentions on getting ready for the Caucuses which are the real determinant factor," McCain says.
On Wednesday, Giuliani’s campaign announced he would skip the Straw Poll and a few hours later McCain’s camp made the same announcement. McCain called the 1999 Iowa Straw Poll a "meaningless beauty contest" and a "sham" because the candidates bought the tickets for the Straw Poll voters. Until this week, McCain had repeatedly said he would participate in this year’s version of the event.
Today in Pella, McCain suggested that winning the event — now that he and Giuliani are out — isn’t much of a prize. "I think that if there’s not everybody in it and the frontrunners aren’t engaged in it, then I don’t think it has a lot of meaning," McCain told reporters.
McCain held a town hall meeting in Pella over the noon-hour on Friday, attracting about 250 people in the city’s town square. McCain, who is an Arizona senator, was an architect of the bipartisan compromise on immigration reform that stalled in the U.S. Senate this week. "I do what I now is right for America. The people of Arizona sent me to Washington to do the hard things. They didn’t expect me to go there and say, ‘No’ and do nothing about our broken border in Arizona. They expect me act, to preserve our security and also address the humane side of it," McCain told reporters. "200 people died in the desert of Arizona last year, trying to come across."
McCain fielded three questions on immigration from the crowd at his town hall meeting; none were critical of McCain’s role in developing the bipartisan immigration reform bill that’s now stalled in the Senate.
McCain’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, though, have ridiculed him for it. Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo says immigration reform has been the "death knell" for McCain’s campaign. "I think that the silver lining in the fact that we have debated this bill and the fact that he has pushed it so hard is that it probably means that there will never be a President John McCain," Tancredo said during taping of the IPTV program "Iowa Press."
McCain dismissed Tancredo’s comments as out of the "realm" of his own thinking on the issue, but McCain said he did bear responsibility for the immigration bill’s failure this week. "Obviously none of us did as good a job as we should have, otherwise we would have passed it," McCain told reporters. "I think the president worked very hard on it. A lot of us worked very hard. When you don’t succeed, then you should have done better."
McCain said it’s unclear when the issue might resurface again, but he said the status quo is unacceptable and something must be done to secure the border and figure out what to do with the illegal immigrants who are in the country today.
You may listen to McCain’s news conference in Pella by clicking on the audio link below.