John McCain endorses former rival Mitt Romney for president

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, endorsed his former rival Mitt Romney in New Hampshire today. 

McCain’s endorsement came a day after Romney narrowly won the Iowa caucus, beating out Rick Santorum by only eight votes.

“It’s with some nostalgia that I return to this place that I love so well. But I’m really here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America,” McCain told the crowd at a town hall in Manchester, N.H. “New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a very short period of time. That’s why I’m here.”

Four years ago, McCain’s own presidential bid was on life support after a fourth place finish in Iowa, and he nearly ran out of money to continue. His win in New Hampshire changed the momentum of the 2008 Republican primary.

The timing and symbolism of McCain’s endorsement suggest that Romney is hoping that a strong win in New Hampshire will help generate some much-needed momentum for his campaign and potentially clear the Republican field early. However, a loss in New Hampshire would be especially embarrassing for the former Massachusetts governor and could jeopardize Romney’s presidential bid.

The New Hampshire primary will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Transcript of John McCain’s endorsement of Mitt Romney for president at a town hall in Manchester, NH: 

“Thank you. Thank you very much. I say thank you for the kind introduction, Mitt.

“I also want to say that it’s with some nostalgia that I return to this place that I love so well. But I’m really here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America. And New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a very short period of time. That’s why I’m here.


“I’d also like to thank all of you again for your involvement in this political process, for your investigation and examination of the candidates.

“You know, there’s so many jokes. Mo Udall, the guy who was running in Manchester, and he said, ‘What do you think about Mo Udall for President?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. I only met him twice.’

“And you know, those are true. That’s why they’re funny. It’s because they’re true.

“And you’re here. Some of you haven’t committed yet. I hope at the end of this appearance, and you watch this Romney campaign throughout this state, that we will get an overwhelming vote that will catapult this candidate to the White House.


“So thank you, Gov. [John] Sununu, for all that you do. And I can’t help but see Gov. Sununu without that old joke of mine about two inmates in the chow line in the state prison. And one of them turn to the other and said, ‘The food was a lot better in here when you were governor.’


“But anyway, in some states, you can’t tell that joke.


“Can I also say how proud I am of this rising star in the American political scene? This leader, this incredible United States Senator, Kelly Ayotte.


“And many of you know her husband, Joe, who has also served with distinction and honor in the [Air] National Guard [as] an A-10 and a lot better than me because he didn’t get shot down. Right, Joe? Glad to see you.


“And of course, Ann and Cindy, would you all stand so people can say, ‘Hi’?


“There are so many dear friends that I’d like to say hello to, but I’d like to get right into it if I could with you.

“You know, I’m a big boxing fan, and I’ve always loved the sport. I think it’s one of the most difficult and challenging that there is. Some of the great moments in sports have taken place, as we know, with some of the great boxing matches. Some of the worst have. That’s why [it’s been called] ‘the sweet science’ … [and] ‘the red light district of sport.’

“But one of my favorite fighters of all time was a guy named Joe Louis. Many of you remember him – he was the heavyweight champion of the world. He was an incredible fighter, and he had a fight coming up with a guy who was the light heavyweight champion of the world. A guy named Billy Conn, who was a great boxer and had a lot of style and a lot of elusiveness. And they said [to] Joe Louis, ‘How are you going to beat this guy? He’s very elusive and he’s very good.’ And Louis said, ‘Well, he can run but he can’t hide.’

“Now my friends, our message to President Barack Obama is you can run but you can’t hide from your record of making this country bankrupt, from destroying our national security, and to making this nation one that we have to restore with Mitt Romney as president of the United States of America.


“All the media reports say that the president is going to attack Congress. You know, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Our approval rating is 9%. You get down that low, you’re down to paid staffers and blood relatives.


“But the fact is that Democrats and President Obama had both houses of Congress – both majority in both houses of Congress – when we passed the bail-out, when we passed Obamacare, when we passed a trillion dollar stimulus package. Remember? That was one that was going to bring unemployment down below 8%? Remember that?

“Well, my friends, he can run but he can’t hide. And that’s what this campaign is going to really be all about.

“And I would remind you again, we just finished up – I think taxpayers were somewhat relieved I’m sure – a couple of weeks ago. We passed a $991 billion money bill – appropriations to make the government run. You know how long we debated that bill? 15 minutes. 15 minutes we debated that bill. I identified $3.5 billion in pork barrel and earmark spending just in the defense part.

“My friends, it can’t go on like this. And the next time, check and see who’s in the majority in the United States Senate – a guy name Harry Reid and the Democrats.

“And hopefully, along with President Mitt Romney, we’re going to have a majority in the United States Senate and we will get things done.


“I know that jobs and the economy will be the dominant theme in this campaign. I understand that. My home state of Arizona – people are hurting very badly. Nearly half the houses in my home state of Arizona are underwater – worth less than their mortgage payments. So I understand that.

“But I also think we have got to understand our nation’s security. I guarantee you one thing: no one will ever say that Mitt Romney will lead from behind. He will lead from in front the way Ronald Reagan did and not lead from behind, which is what this president is doing.

“My friends, we are believed around the world to be weak. We are believed to be around the world in decline, and that is not the case. Mitt Romney and I and you believe that America’s greatest days are still ahead of us. It just requires the kind of leadership to put us back in a position that made America the greatest and noblest experiment in the history of the world. And the person to do that is right here with you today: President Mitt Romney.”


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