Republican presidential candidate John McCain is due in Des Moines this afternoon for a town hall meeting on health care. During an interview this morning with Radio Iowa as he prepared to fly out of Cleveland, McCain declared Iowa a "battleground" state in the November. "Iowa, I’ve always said, is swing state and a very important state," McCain said. "It’s the heartland of America."
Twice as many Democrats as Republicans turned out for the Iowa Caucuses and the Obama and Clinton campaigns have remained active in the state, organizing supporters to attend district conventions last Saturday. "I think it’s going to be a contested race in Iowa. I hope we can get our vote out and get our not only Republicans but Independents and the old Reagan Democrats and the new Reagan Democrats as we call ’em and I think I can compete with Senator Obama or Senator Clinton and by the way, it’s not totally clear to me who the (Democrat’s) nominee is going to be but I expect to be a contested race in Iowa and all across America," McCain said. "We’re going to be campaign everywhere in America. I’m not going to just confine my campaign to a few states and so we’re going to go everywhere and Iowa will be one of the battleground states."
This is McCain’s first trip back to Iowa after his fourth-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses. McCain joked a bit about that during his conversation with Radio Iowa. "I really thought that I should have finished third because I was so close to Fred Thompson (who finished third) and I was demanding a recount, but I didn’t get it," McCain said, "so I still think I finished third in the Iowa Caucuses."
But McCain concedes he has to build a ground game in Iowa for the General Election based on the results of the Caucuses. "I think it means that I have a lot of work to do in Iowa. I think it’s an enormous testimony to the campaign that both Governor Huckabee and Governor Romney waged (for the Caucuses)," McCain said. "And again I’d like to tip my hat again to Governor Huckabee who really was remarkably successful in galvanizing a lot of voters on his behalf who turned out in the Caucus."
McCain suggests he may call upon those who finished ahead of him in the Caucuses to help him convert Iowans to support his campaign. "I look forward to bringing Governor Huckabee back and Governor Romney and Fred Thompson to help campaign for me and get their supporters as well," McCain said.
McCain is scheduled to speak at a two o’clock this afternoon in Des Moines. Click on the audio link below to hear McCain’s six-minute interview with Radio Iowa.