McCain Denies That He Is ‘Running Away From The Maverick Title': ‘I Prefer Great American Myself’

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"McCain Denies That He Is ‘Running Away From The Maverick Title': ‘I Prefer Great American Myself’"

Facing a tough primary challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been moving hard to the right. In an interview with Newsweek earlier this month, McCain even denied his own branding, claiming that he has “never considered myself a maverick.” Earlier this week, when Politico reporters asked McCain about flip-flopping on the label, the former presidential candidate “grew visibly irritated and snapped: ‘I’ve been called a thousand things. It’s absolutely ridiculous.'”

On Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace played a series of clips of McCain referring to himself as a “maverick” and asked how he could say that he never considered himself one. In response, McCain admitted that he wore the “maverick” label when he criticized President Bush, but insisted that he only considered himself “a person who’s a fighter.” He denied he was “running away from the maverick title”:

WALLACE: You said, I never considered myself a maverick.

MCCAIN: Well, all I — what I was saying was that I have considered myself a person who’s a fighter. I wouldn’t be around today if I wasn’t a fighter. I fight for the things that I believe in, and sometimes that’s called a maverick. Sometimes that’s called a partisan. And people can draw their own conclusions. I prefer great American myself, but…

WALLACE: So are you running away from the maverick title…

MCCAIN: No, of course not.

WALLACE: … because somehow it indicates that maybe you’re not a true blue conservative?

Watch it:

As ThinkProgress noted when McCain first tried to abandon the “maverick” label, “McCain carefully branded himself as a maverick to appeal to independent voters in 2008,” but “he now cowers from the term in his Arizona Republican primary.” McCain isn’t just abandoning the “maverick” label though. He’s also abandoned many of his old policy positions.

Though he once touted cap and trade as a solution to the climate change crisis, McCain now derides the concept as “cap and tax.” After the Supreme Court invalidated much of his own signature McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, McCain largely shrugged off the decision, and has not taken a stand on reforming the election system.

Transcript:

WALLACE: What a lot of people see in John McCain these days is a move to the right, a more aggressive posture towards President Obama, that they attribute to the fact that you face a tough challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth in the GOP primary. Of course, you’re running for reelection in Arizona.

And they point to a comment that you made to Newsweek recently. And let’s put it up on the screen. I never considered myself a maverick. I consider myself someone who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his ability. Senator, I don’t have to tell you we found dozens of examples from the 2008 campaign in which you talked about being a maverick. Let’s put them up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: He’s the original maverick. One is ready to lead, McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: If you want real reform and if you want change, send a team of mavericks. And what maverick really means, what this team of maverick really means, is we understand who we work for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: How can you say I never considered myself a maverick?

MCCAIN: Well, look, when I was fighting against my own president, whether we needed more troops in Iraq, or whether we — spending was completely out of control, then I was a maverick.

Now that I’m fighting against this spending administration and this out-of-control and reckless health care plan, then I’m a partisan.

I’ve been called a lot of things, and I’ll be glad to be called anything. But I’m a fighter, and that’s what I am. And I fought against my own administration when I wanted to, when I thought it was necessary to do so, and I will fight against this administration when I think it’s necessary to do so.

WALLACE: But if I may press you…

MCCAIN: Yeah, sure.

WALLACE: … it isn’t what other people are saying about you, it’s what you’re saying about yourself.

MCCAIN: Sure. Yeah.

WALLACE: You said, I never considered myself a maverick.

MCCAIN: Well, all I — what I was saying was that I have considered myself a person who’s a fighter. I wouldn’t be around today if I wasn’t a fighter. I fight for the things that I believe in, and sometimes that’s called a maverick. Sometimes that’s called a partisan. And people can draw their own conclusions. I prefer great American myself, but…

WALLACE: So are you running away from the maverick title…

MCCAIN: No, of course not.

WALLACE: … because somehow it indicates that maybe you’re not a true blue conservative?

MCCAIN: No, my title is that I fight for the things I believe in. I fight for people of Arizona who are hurting very badly right now. Half the homes in Arizona are under water. We have real unemployment of some 17 percent. And I’m continuing to fight for them as I have ever since I was fortunate enough to serve the people of Arizona.

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