McCain stands firm on war

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Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain takes a question from an audience member at a Town Hall forum held in Hampton on Tuesday.
Don Clark
John McCain (R)
Senator, AZ
Born: 08/29/1936
Birthplace: Panama Canal Zone
Home: Phoenix, AZ
Religion: Episcopalian
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HAMPTON Presidential hopeful John McCain doesn't hold back telling voters exactly how he feels whether they like it or not.

The Republican senator from Arizona conducted one of his "straight talk" town meetings with a packed audience Tuesday night at Hampton Academy Junior High.

And the two biggest issues on the minds of residents were the two issues that some say has hurt his campaign, his stance on illegal immigration and the war in Iraq.

McCain once again justified his support for continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, while criticizing how the war was handled under former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

He said the troop escalation over the past year has been effective and withdrawing troops would cause "chaos" in the region.

"I'd much rather lose a campaign than a war," McCain said.

McCain said he still believes in the immigration plan that failed in Congress earlier this year.

But he said he realizes that none of its components, including allowing millions of illegal immigrants to earn legal status, will not work unless the borders are secure.

"We need to secure the borders," McCain said. "I will secure the borders before we do anything."

McCain also talked about his plan to overhaul the nation's health care system, aiming to give people more control and to encourage greater competition and lower costs.

When one resident asked what he would accomplish in his first 100 days in office, McCain rattled off a long list.

He said his first priority would be to protect the nation's security by addressing radical Islamic extremism. Second on his list is to restore trust and confidence in the government, including a plan to stop wasteful spending and corruption.

He blasted New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton for backing a $1 million appropriation for a Woodstock memorial and vowed to veto any frivolous spending bill with a pen given to him by former President Ronald Reagan.

McCain also said he would ensure the United States would not torture a prisoner of war under his power, and he would fight to limit mankind's effects on climate change.

"Suppose that there is no such thing as climate change in this world," McCain said. "We develop green house technologies anyway that end up giving the next generation a cleaner planet. But suppose we do nothing and climate change is real; then what kind of a planet are we giving the next generation?"