McCain: `I Am Prepared To Lead, I Need No On-TheJjob Training'


Saturday, April 28th 2007, 4:07 pm
By: News On 6


ELKO, Nev. (AP) _ Sen. John McCain touted his experience and Western roots in his bid for the White House during a brief campaign stop Saturday in this rural, Republican-friendly Nevada enclave.

``I am prepared to lead, I need no on-the-job training,'' the Arizona Republican told about 300 people gathered at the steps of the Elko County Courthouse, in northeastern Nevada.

McCain criticized both parties on the war in Iraq. The war was mismanaged in its early stages, he said, but Democrats' attempts to enforce a timetable for withdrawal are misguided and won't prevail.

President Bush has said he will veto a war funding bill that contains the timetable. Democrats in Congress have stood by the plan.

McCain said he believes Democrats will back down rather face blame for any possible consequences of holding up funding by insisting on a withdrawal timetable.

``The fact is they won't do it because then they have to take responsibility for what takes place,'' he said.

McCain's visit was part of a five-state, four-day swing to officially kickoff his presidential campaign. He was to wrap up the tour later in the day in Tempe, Ariz.

McCain has been trailing in polls and fundraising to Republican Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. The senator has struggled to maintain his reputation for political independence while staunchly defending the administration's increasing unpopular war policies.

In a speech in Las Vegas last week, McCain criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when the Nevada Democrat said the war in Iraq was ``lost.''

Though rural areas of Nevada are heavily supportive of Bush, McCain could have an uphill battle in other parts of the state, particularly in populous Clark County in southern Nevada that includes Las Vegas.

McCain has a record of supporting the opening of a nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The waste dump is strongly opposed by Democrats and Republicans in the state.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ A series of debates in the next month and a straw poll this summer in Iowa will highlight the differences in a large Republican field of candidates and likely doom the current set of front-runners, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Saturday.

``Republicans don't ultimately choose their candidate based on poll numbers and predictions,'' Huckabee said. ``They base it on the principles those candidates espouse and their ability to articulate them.''

Huckabee spoke during a campaign visit in Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the presidential nominating season. He was courting conservative activists at an anti-abortion meeting, and speaking to a conference on the emergence of diabetes at a Des Moines hospital.

Diabetes has been one of Huckabee's prime topics since doctors diagnosed the disease in him nearly five years ago. He has lost more than 100 pounds in an effort to combat it.

Most surveys have shown Huckabee far behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who are generally atop the field of Republican candidates.

Huckabee argued on Saturday that most polls are not based on backing from Republicans activists who will play a main role in narrowing the GOP field.

``What you are not seeing now is a sense of excitement,'' said Huckabee. ``Frankly what you are seeing now is people saying we're not satisfied and we're continuing to look.''

He said the top tier of the Republican field is based on name identification and early fundraising, both of which can be overcome.

``The three front-runners are front-runners not because the party activists have deemed them front-runners, but because, in essence, the pundits and columnists and others have deemed them that because of how they show up on name identification and how much money they have raised,'' he said. ``You don't see them front-running in the sense of activist support.''

There are candidate debates in the next month beginning in California, then moving to South Carolina and New Hampshire. Huckabee said those debates, along with a straw poll in Ames in August, will focus the attention of activists on where the leading candidates stand.

``If I didn't believe that I'd just go ahead and go home,'' said Huckabee.