John McCain held another blogger conference call, and started off talking about his effort to reach out to “areas that haven’t been able to participate” in economic expansion. The biggest lesson to be learned from the War on Poverty is that local control and local government is the key to success. Big federal bureaucracies just get in the way. He visited the Katrina-hit areas and toured the devastated areas, and later spoke about improving the response to future disasters.

On the economy, McCain says to anyone who wants to pay higher taxes: “I’m not your guy.” Spending is the problem, not revenue, including a 940% increase in earmarks over the last 12 years. He wants to keep capital-gains tax rates low in order to maintain and increase the revenue from them. “Anyone who wants to raise taxes in tough economic times lacks a fundamental understanding of economics.”

McCain also believes that a gas-tax holiday will benefit the working class, but he says it doesn’t solve the fundamental problems of oil imbalance

Questions:

  • What obligation does Obama have to discuss his associations with former radicals, and what responsibility does the press have? — He’s surprised that there hasn’t been more focus on Obama’s comparison between William Ayers and Tom Coburn. Obama owes the American people an apology for both. Maybe he can make a case for Ayers, but the Weathermen were terrorists, and the media should discuss it.
  • The North Carolina ad — why pull it? — It’s not the tenor of the conversation McCain wants to wage. It’s open for discussion, but he doesn’t want to make it part of the campaigning at any level. In his view, the ad isn’t appropriate for the GOP, in a similar manner as Bill Cunningham’s remarks earlier in the campaign.
  • Can you win in California? — He intends to compete in California; as a Western Senator, he understands the issues facing Californians, and Schwarzenegger’s success there shows it can be done.
  • What is his analysis of the Basra operations? — It’s a “pleasant turn of events”. We’ve been pressing Maliki for action, and he persevered through some setbacks to success. Basra now is under Maliki’s control, and it has united the central government. Sadr is marginalized. “Overall, I’m rather pleased.”
  • Should voters take Obama’s relationship with Wright into account? — He doesn’t want to tell voters how to make their decision, but he’s concerned about the tenor of the Republican campaign. He can’t order them to take the ad down, but as the nominee, he can make public his concerns.
  • Hamas would be pleased with an Obama presidency Has he distanced himself from Carter, Hamas? — A lot of bad actors on the international stage seem to be rooting for Obama, including Daniel Ortega and others. Sitting down without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while Iran increases its support for Shi’ite militias shows how feckless Obama’s foreign policy is.
  • Obama withdrew from a debate in North Carolina. Would he be willing to have a “conversation” with Hillary instead? McCain says it’s inappropriate until the Dems have a nominee.

McCain’s next stop will be in Arkansas, where he will make appearances with Mike Huckabee. Afterwards, he goes to Florida for some fundraising, and next week, he’ll start talking about health care and get back on the bus with the media.