- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2007

John McCain, fresh off a trip to Iraq, attacked Democrats yesterday for a “choose to lose” approach to the war, as the Arizona senator tries to find common ground with the Republican primary voters who have deserted him in recent months.

“Defeatism will not buy peace in our time,” Mr. McCain said in a speech in New Hampshire. It was his first major campaign event since he announced dismal second-quarter fund-raising efforts and his two top national-campaign operatives resigned and took other staffers with them out the door.

In an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, Mr. McCain said he is retooling and plans to spend more time campaigning in the three early-contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to try to make up in legwork what he cannot do through spending, since his campaign will report it is close to going into the red.

By contrast, Mr. McCain’s two top declared opponents for the Republican nomination yesterday filed their quarterly forms with the Federal Election Commission showing each still has plenty of money in the bank.

“We spent too much money, we didn’t do a lot of things we should have done, and those are my responsibilities,” Mr. McCain said in the radio interview. “We had to obviously change course, try to improve the situation both financially and in other ways, slim down our staff and move forward, and do the kinds of campaigning that won me the [New Hampshire] primary in 2000.”

He also retooled his immigration pitch, saying since his calls for a broad bill to include citizenship rights for illegal aliens failed, he now supports moving forward on smaller pieces, such as border security and an agriculture worker program.

“Maybe step by step so that people have some confidence that we will do it in the right way,” Mr. McCain said in the radio interview.

The senator spent most of this week in Washington working on the defense bill as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his New Hampshire speech to the Concord Chamber of Commerce, he took a shot by name at Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, who he said failed to mention al Qaeda in a column they published this week.

In attacking Mrs. Clinton on the war, Mr. McCain has found easy common ground with many Republican voters, whom he sorely needs to placate after irking many of them by teaming up with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, to try to pass an immigration bill that many conservative voters viewed as offering amnesty to illegal aliens.

His advisers said his immigration stance cost them in contributions over the past three months, when he raised $11.2 million.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said he will report about $2 million in cash on hand and a debt still outstanding.

That means he doesn’t have money to help stop his slide in polls in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — all states he led at one point.

His top declared opponents, meanwhile, have plenty of money to compete.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday reported raising $17.6 million from April 1 through June 30, spending $11.2 million and having $18.3 million in cash on hand at the end.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reported raising $21 million, including a $6.5 million loan he made to the campaign, spending nearly all of his new funds and having $12.1 million in cash on hand as of June 30.

But for Mr. Romney the money apparently was well-spent. He took the lead in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire in mid-May.

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