EXETER — Republican presidential hopeful and Arizona Sen. John McCain returned to New Hampshire this weekend as part of his "No Surrender" tour. McCain stumped at five stops including a house party in Exeter.
McCain's first Seacoast stop of the day was at the home of Dr. Mark and Patty Henshke in Rye.
From there he went to "Septemberfest," an Octoberfest-style barbecue with draft beer and grilled bratwurst at the home of Maureen and Cal Barrows in Exeter.
Upon arrival, a casually dressed McCain joked with the crowd before speaking on topics including congressional spending, climate change and the war in Iraq.
McCain criticized both Democrats in Congress and members of his own party for wasting funds on pork barrel projects. He compared members of Congress to "drunken sailors" and questioned a mutli-million dollar bridge recently built in a remote part of Alaska.
"Meanwhile, not a penny of this pork barrel spending ... for bridge inspection and repair," said McCain. "So what happens: the bridge over the Mississippi collapses and people are killed."
McCain also called for immediate action to combat global warming. He said that the United States needs to return to nuclear energy and adopt the Kyoto treaty.
At the heart McCain's speech was the war in Iraq. McCain said he understands that many are growing frustrated with the war, but that he still supports keeping U.S. forces in Iraq.
"We've still got major challenges in Iraq, but I want to also tell you that we still have a chance to succeed," he said. "If we leave, I believe with all my heart and all my mind that we will pay a heavier price because there will be chaos and genocide in the region."
After the 20-minute speech, McCain opened the floor up to questions. Supporters asked McCain about his recent poll numbers, his position on illegal immigration, and his views on same sex marriage.
A student from Franklin Pierce College questioned McCain about his position on medical marijuana, asking whether he would "jail the sick and dying patients" using the illegal drug.
McCain said he was glad to see the group of students again, but reiterated his stance against medicinal marijuana.
The students said they respect McCain for giving them a straightforward answer.
"This is what New Hampshire is all about," said Stu Cooper of Manchester. "If I can ask my question and have him think about it and give me an answer I'm happy."
McCain's last scheduled stop of the day was at a town hall meeting in Epping.