The Washington Times - January 25, 2012, 12:33PM

Sen. John McCain, Republicans’ 2008 presidential nominee, said Wednesday that there have been too many debates in the GOP’s nomination battle this year, saying it’s different than the general election where debates are limited.

“There’s been way too many debates,” Mr. McCain said on a conference call arranged by Mitt Romney’s campaign to criticize Newt Gingrich’s record on allowing earmarks when he was speaker of the House.

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Mr. McCain said in the general election there are only three debates between the two parties’ nominees, and then another debate between the vice presidential nominees — far different than the primary, where there have been at least 18 such debates, and a half-dozen others still scheduled.

“It’s clear to me Newt Gingrich is very good on his feet, which has helped him a lot,” Mr. McCain said, but he said a presidential campaign should be based on more than just debate performances.

Mr. Gingrich, who is credited with being a good debater, has vowed to expand the general election into a series of seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates between himself and President Obama. He said he would dog the president at every turn until Mr. Obama agreed to those debates.