WASHINGTON (MCT) — Sen. John McCain said Sunday he won't support tax increases if he's elected president, but defended votes he made in 2001 and 2003 against President Bush's tax cuts.
McCain, an Arizona Republican, has taken criticism from some conservatives for opposing Bush's tax cuts, but he acknowledged that he wouldn't let them expire. Doing so would amount to a tax increase, McCain said, speaking on "Fox News Sunday." "I will not support a tax increase," said McCain, who has said he voted against Bush's tax cuts because they weren't coupled with spending restraints. Legislation authorizing those cuts is due to expire in 2011.
In a broad-ranging interview, McCain, 70, also said he'd confer with Democrats to fix the Social Security program and dismissed concerns he is too old for the White House.
McCain, who also ran for president in 2000, has been critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and of what he calls "out-of-control" government spending. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who coordinates McCain's team of economic advisers, says the candidate will highlight his record as a reformer in the Republican primary. McCain kicked off his presidential campaign April 25. He is trailing Rudolph Giuliani in polls and fund raising.