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(Final Update) McCain Blogger Call

2:26 PM, Jul 13, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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McCain: "...I'm trying to say this in the right fashion, I have the greatest respect and admiration for Senator Domenici, but sometimes I wish that he and others were able to get over there a little more and have contact with leaders like Petraeus and Odierno--and this guy Crocker, I think, is a great ambassador--that they could get a better sense of it. I'm not one who believes in media conspiracies, I'm not saying that there's a liberal cabal out there or anything else, but I don't believe that Americans get the complete picture of the progress that's being made and I'm not sure that the consequences of failure are discussed enough. They always come to me and say 'What's your Plan B?' I keep saying, 'What's their Plan B if they withdraw and it just turns into chaos?...I think it's very difficult when you lose people of the status prestige of Senators Lugar and Domenici but I'm guardedly optimistic that we can maintain 41 votes.

Is September a reasonable time at which to determine whether the strategy is succeeding?

McCain: "...If I were the bad guys, right around labor day I'd be setting off bombs all over the place, and I'm not sure that we can prevent that, I'm not sure that we can't prevent that. It is disturbing to me also that September seems to be the determining time...if Petraeus comes back and stands up and says 'look, here's where we are showing success and I'll tell you what I think is going to happen if you tell me to get out in 90 days, or 120 days, here's what's going to happen.' I think that maybe we can have some kind of influence...maybe that'll be helpful, and maybe I'm just digging for the pony. "

Would you take time off from the campaign to focus on your work in the Senate supporting the war in Iraq?

McCain: "I will do whatever is necessary, including taking some time off in September...I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war...for people like me who have no sacrifice to make, to bail out on them [the troops]because I'm on a campaign--it would make it difficult to shave in the morning.

Can he put any distance between himself and the president on the right?

McCain: "Spending, spending, spending, and expansion of the government. I have a long record of fighting against that...that's the way I can help myself and convince Republicans that McCain is legit..."

"I stand up for what I believe in...it [standing up for the war] hasn't worked so far, but one can hope. There's still a part of the Republican base that agrees with me that withdrawal would be disastrous....[but] I have no illusions as to how much immigration and the war has hurt me...but people are enthusiastic, and I'm confident that we can do OK.

Others on the call: Powerline, RedState, Jim Geraghty, Jennifer Rubin, and Anna Marie Cox, who Geraghty lovingly describes as "Serious Journalist and Former Wonkette." I, too, failed to transcribe that question.