The theme of the call really seemed to be communication. John McCain has made clear repeatedly that he would do more than the Bush administration to communicate. He would talk more about Iraq. About the deficit. About immigration. About global warming. About judges. He believes that he would be able to get through to people if he just explained. In that sense, he seems much more like Reagan or (Bill, but not Hillary) Clinton. (Hillary seems to prefer the Bush model)
There may be some news in this. McCain whacks Rudy a little on experience and torture. He gives Rob Bluey a position on the Law of the Sea Treaty. Perhaps the most important is that he really socks it to the administration on editing scientific reports. (Is this new? Surely this came up in the Commerce Committee)
My notes follow after the jump.
McCain is in Iowa. Would have been the AARP debate, but only he and Huckabee responded. Called for working — and following — the Europeans on Iran. Talked about the DREAM Act, and a couple more things. I got in late.
James Joyner. Asked about the concept of the League of Democracies. NATO+ or ad hoc? McCain indicated that he wanted a group that had regular meetings.
"A little more than the G8. Far less than NATO. NATO is more of a political/military organization. … The League of Democracies is far more non-military, sanctions, trade agreements, diplomatic and other. Dialogue. Not as much a military organization as a … political one."
Brad Marston, who had been on the bus recently. Acknowledged climate change. Asked for thoughts on "heavy editing" of CDC reports. McCain says that he was glad to have him on the bus and had a message to bloggers, "Move yourself from the couch and get on out on the bus." In response to the question, McCain might have made some news:
"Not the first time that we have heard these reports, but I am very disappointed in the administration. … Monitoring and editing of reports by political appointees who have neither the talent or the scientific background. … For years, it was an administration position that climate change was not something that we have to address. I think that this administration will not be judged well for not implementing market based … global warming."
Jen Rubin asks about judges. McCain says that the criteria — for voting on judges — shouldn’t be philosophy. Cited Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He is proud of Gang of 14. He made an important point about communication, which is an important contrast with the Bush adminsitration
The only that you can do is make them famous. The power of the Presidency is that you can communicate directly with the American people… ‘Here is Southwick. Here’s what he’s said. Here’s what he’s done. Why should he be blocked?’
Ed Morrissey. Asks about S-CHIP. McCain made another important point about communication that points to a weakness in the Bush administration:
"When you explain the bills in townhalls, people get it. When you explain the deficit, taxes, etc., people get it. I will not approve or sign any bill that is not paid for. If we really care about children and their health and their wellbeing, then we are not going to lay an unfunded liability on social security … they are going to be broke. … Go right back at them."
Jim Geraghty. Asked about the DREAM Act.
On the DREAM Act, I would have voted against it because I’ve gotten the message a thousand times. The people want the borders secured first."
Matt Lewis. Asked two questions. The first was about baseball. McCain grew up cheering for the BRS because of one of his heros. However, now it is the teams out west. The second question was on torture and Rudy’s statement yesterday about waterboarding.
The word is experience. … Romney … lawyers … When Rudy doesn’t know about waterboarding … Nearly every retired general … they think waterboarding is torture and that we shouldn’t torture. …
Robert Bluey asked about the Law of the Sea Treaty.
We need a law of the sea, but I do worry about some of the provisions. … I would like to see a treaty .. the Arctic, which thanks to global warming is going to become more important. … Would vote against.