Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain spoke with reporters at the Beverly Hilton before a Bel Air Fundraiser. KPCC's Frank Stoltze was there and told KPCC's Shirley Jahad what Senator McCain discussed, including the recent California ruling on same sex marriage and the Iraq War.
Shirley Jahad: Republican presidential candidate John McCain is in the Southland today. He's attending a couple of fundraisers. One dinner, chaired by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nancy Reagan; another reception at the Beverly Hilton. KPCC's Frank Stoltze is there and joins us now live. Hi, Frank.
Frank Stoltze: Hi, Shirley.
Jahad: Well McCain also weighed in on the gay marriage issue, right?
Stoltze: He did. He was asked by a reporter at the press availability about his stance on gay marriage, and he said again that he believes marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, and he also said that the courts should not change that.
So he took a shot at the California Supreme Court. He said that voters should decide the issue, but he did indeed reiterate his stance that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman.
Jahad: Now again, McCain is at these private fundraisers, but he took about half an hour out to answer questions from reporters and the news of the day. He commented on Scott McClellan's accusation that President Bush deceived the country in going to war in Iraq.
Stoltze: McCain said he has no evidence that Bush deceived the country, and he took the opportunity to hit on his number one issue, which is Iraq. He says that, again, the current Iraq policy is working. He gave the example of reduced violence in Sadr City, and he said that he was glad to hear that Senator Obama was considering going to Iraq.
And Senator McCain said he had counted up the days since Obama had last visited Iraq, and he said it had been 871 days since the likely Democratic nominee had been to Iraq, and it's just an example of how we can expect Senator McCain to hit on the Iraq issue over and over again.
He said again that he doesn't think that Senator Obama has the experience to lead the country in a time of war. So we're seeing again this center issue, at least in McCain's view, of the coming campaign.
Jahad: The Iraq issue could cut both ways in California for McCain. What's he saying about running in California, where President Bush isn't so popular?
Stoltze: Well, there's been a lot of talk lately from the McCain camp that he's gonna compete in California, that he's gonna come out here and campaign in the general election. He's holding this fundraiser here, of course. It's a big fundraiser.
Individuals who raised $250,000 qualify as chairs for this fundraiser and go to a private dinner tonight at the Bel Air home of Robin and Elliot Broidy, and that's the dinner you referenced earlier, hosted by Nancy Reagan and Governor Schwarzenegger. And he points to Governor Schwarzenegger as a Republican who has done well here in the Golden State.
And quoting now, he said "Schwarzenegger has proven to anybody's satisfaction that you can, as a Republican, have differing views and win" in California. So, of course, polls show that California remains overwhelmingly Democratic, that an Obama or a Senator Clinton campaign against McCain would– the Democrat would win. And we have to note, of course, that the last Republican to take the state in a presidential election was President Bush's father back in 1988.
Jahad: Thank you very much. KPCC's Frank Stoltze coming to us from the Beverly Hilton.
Stoltze: Meantime, we should let you know also, the wife of Democratic candidate Barack Obama is in the Southland. Michelle Obama spoke at a breakfast to a group in a downtown L.A. law firm. She also attended campaign fundraisers today in Pasadena.