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JAY LENO: My first guest, as I said, truly the comeback kid. Last July the campaign was just DOA. Remember, Kev? He was hitting the band up for money.
Remember that? Little support. No staff. This guy ‑‑ you can't ‑‑ remember, he carried his own bags to the airport?
KEVIN EUBANKS: He worked hard.
JAY LENO: It really is an amazing story. Now after three stunning primary victories, he's now the Republican frontrunner. Please welcome our good friend, Senator John McCain, ladies and gentlemen.
Well, congratulations. You see us about two times a year; if we're lucky, maybe three. And last July, I guess, remember it was, like, "Oh, my God, he's a nice guy, Kev. It's too bad it didn't work out." I mean, and yet you always seem to just ‑‑ does it affect you? Or do you keep it all inside?
JOHN McCAIN: It was the contributions from the band that kept us going.
God bless. By the way, my lawyer joke.
JAY LENO: Oh, you have a lawyer joke?
JOHN McCAIN: Yes. Do you know the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?
JAY LENO: Don't know.
JOHN McCAIN: One is a scum‑sucking bottom dweller; the other is a fish.
JOHN McCAIN: There goes the lawyer vote.
JAY LENO: I guess you can cross out the endorsement from the American Bar Association.
JOHN McCAIN: They're gone. They're gone. Thanks for having me on. I was reminded back there in July of the words of Chairman Mao, who said, "It's always darkest before it's totally black," and he came back. Remember Mao?
JAY LENO: Don't quote Mao on the campaign trail.
Not a good idea. It's interesting because I've watched your career, and you seem to revel in being the underdog. It seems like, when the times get rough, you do this conniving ‑‑ do you enjoy that?
JOHN McCAIN: In a way, yeah. If I could just tell you a brief story. I was in Iraq with my friend Senator Lindsey Graham. 688 brave young Americans ‑‑ temperatures like 125 ‑‑ reenlist to stay in Iraq and fight. I mean, it was one of the more moving experiences I've ever had. We were on the plane on the way back, and we were talking, and I said, "You know, you've got these kids out there, these brave young Americans out there, and I'm worried about my political future, and they are putting it on the line. We're not going to let them get defeated. We're not going to have them surrender, and they're going to win," and, by golly, they are winning, my friend.
JAY LENO: Well, I think that's what people like about you. You're kind of a straight‑talking guy. Sometimes I see people kind of coming over to that. I notice, like, the best example was in Michigan where one of your opponents said, "Oh, the jobs are all coming back assuming they're going to make '57 Chevy's again." And then, you said, "No, these jobs aren't coming back. No, they're not." And I could see people go, "What?"
JOHN McCAIN: And we went to South Carolina and told them that the textile mills aren't coming back, but what we are able ‑‑
JAY LENO: Is this show coming back?
JOHN McCAIN: Coming back for a long time. But I also told them, "Look, there's green technologies. There's a whole new era out there. There's hybrid cars. There's battery‑powered cars. There's ethanol." I used to have a glass of ethanol every morning before breakfast in the morning in Iowa. Yeah, it's good for you.
But the fact is that there are new technologies out there. Look, climate change is real in my view. With green technologies, we can create thousands and millions of new jobs in America, and by the way, this governor who endorsed me today, The Terminator, I was very happy to be with him today ‑‑ he believes in that. He believes here in California that we can clean up the air, clean up the climate and give our kids a better planet in the future, and I believe that, too. And by the way, I saw the gun in the ‑‑
JOHN McCAIN: With Governor Schwarzenegger, it was ‑‑ by the way, you saw it, didn't you, where Chuck Norris had said that I was too old?
JAY LENO: Chuck Norris said that you were too old. I did see that.
JOHN McCAIN: Schwarzenegger is going to take care of him.
JAY LENO: Really.
JAY LENO: Now, I see your family with you on the campaign trail.
JOHN McCAIN: Yes, my daughter Meghan and my wife Cindy are here, and they're doing a great job. My daughter Meghan is a blogger and doing great and enjoying all of it, every minute of it, especially speaking of some of the nicer places we're staying in some places in America.
JAY LENO: I want to ask you about the debates. Can there be too many of these things? Do you like that forum? Do you think the more the better?
JOHN McCAIN: I think that was our 15th, and I think there was only 14 too many.
It gives people a chance to examine the candidates. It was kind of interesting when there was like nine of us, you know. Really you know you'd be asked a question, and you knew it was going to be probably eight or nine minutes before they got around to you again, and I miss some of them.
JAY LENO: You do? Not that much.
JOHN McCAIN: You know, they're an important part of the process. People get to see us in comparison with others, but I like the town hall meetings. I love the town hall meetings.
JAY LENO: Where regular people ask questions.
JOHN McCAIN: Regular people ask questions, and they get to ask a follow‑up question, and we go back and forth a lot of times, and then people feel they're part of the process. Even if they are one of the thousand that never got to ask a question, they're a part of it. Of course, the place where it happens the most is New Hampshire. That's a state where they've grown used to it, and my favorite joke that I stole from Mark Udall many years ago, he said ‑‑ he walked into a barber shop in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was from Arizona as you know, and he said, "Hi. I'm Mark Udall from Arizona, and I'm running for President of the United States." And the barber said, "Yeah, we were just laughing about that this morning."
And everybody has stolen it, by the way.
JAY LENO: Including you.
JOHN McCAIN: Including me.
JAY LENO: More with Senator McCain when we come back.
(A break was taken.)
JAY LENO: Welcome back. We're talking to Senator John McCain. You know, watching the tone of the campaign, especially, first it got contentious with Hillary and Barack, and then I watched the Republicans the next night. You guys couldn't have been more polite to each. Was that sort of ‑‑ did you guys watch that debate and say "Oh, we don't want to do that"?
JOHN McCAIN: No, but you always have to be careful when you're in one of these debates because you're running for President, not the best debater. So you always want to try to appear as thoughtful as you can. People can tune in on any cable show and watch people fight. This is about who they want to be President. I can't tell you the number of times I've run into people and they say, "You did a great job." "Well, what do you like?" "Well, I can't remember anything in particular, but you did a great job." So you've got to be careful about that. People don't expect us to disparage each other's character and integrity.
JAY LENO: Well, the other night you and Romney, to use a military term, got snippy. Is that a military term?
JAY LENO: Is that a military term for fighting? You got snippy. It looked a little (making screeching noise).
JOHN McCAIN: It got a little rough. I understand that we're getting near the end here. I think we've got some momentum. Governor Schwarzenegger, the governor of Florida ‑‑
JAY LENO: Do you like Romney?
JOHN McCAIN: Oh, yes. I think he's a very fine family man. I think he's a good man. I just think that I'm obviously more qualified. So we've got some momentum and ‑‑
So it got a little rough, but we try to avoid that as much as we can. I want to tell you this guy Governor Huckabee is a good guy.
JOHN McCAIN: He really is. He's a good sincere person. Fred Thompson has been on your show. You know, he's a great guy.
JAY LENO: Let me ask you about that.
JOHN McCAIN: These guys are good guys.
JAY LENO: The Huckabee thing. It was Huckabee. Something I saw happen right before South Carolina. You were able to diffuse it in a way John Kerry didn't. When John Kerry, who I think was a legitimate hero in the war, that whole swift boat thing. I think people remember that, and they made him out like ‑‑ for about one day there a story circulating, what they call that push‑pull, where "John McCain really wasn't a prisoner. He really didn't do this."
JOHN McCAIN: The Manchurian candidate.
JAY LENO: I just said, "Oh, boy, are they going to try to ruin this man?" And yet it just disappeared after one day, the story. Were you guys able too quash that?
JOHN McCAIN: I think it was that, and also people didn't believe it. They know me well enough.
JAY LENO: When the lie is so outrageous like that, like, you were never in a prisoner of war camp, there's always somebody who's going to go ‑‑ how does one deal with it? What do you do?
JOHN McCAIN: The first thing you got to do, and this is easier said than done, don't let it get under your skin. Don't let it bother you. If somebody questions whether I was the Manchurian candidate or not, your immediate reaction is (indicating), but you've got to just let it not get under your skin. You've got to take it for what it is and campaign hard enough that people know you, that they really know you, and that's why we won in New Hampshire. We did a 101 town hall meetings, came back, and started coming back up, coming back up. I didn't ‑‑ after a while I didn't even have to carry my own bags anymore.
JAY LENO: Let me ask you something. How do you deal with ‑‑ let me ask you something. On conservative radio, Rush Limbaugh especially, he's "The Republican party is dead if John McCain gets elected." What do you do there? Do you try and win those guys over? Do you ignore it and hope they come around? I mean, the right wing radio thing is pretty powerful. Would you go on his show if he invited you?
JOHN McCAIN: I would go on most any show.
JAY LENO: Well, obviously.
JOHN McCAIN: I think the important thing is to convince our Republican base which is a very conservative that, one, I'm a conservative, and, two, that I'm the best qualified on taking on their major concern, that is, this struggle against radical Islamic extremism, and I think I can ‑‑ I've been able to do that pretty successfully. Look, the straight talk is that we're going to have to energize our base and get everybody into our party if we're going to win in November. Straight talk, right now, when you look at Democrat versus Republican, we Republicans got our work cut out for us ‑‑ and get back to the principles that made us the majority party.
JAY LENO: Have you been looking at the vice president?
JOHN McCAIN: Well, I know that your contract is up.
JAY LENO: Well...
JOHN McCAIN: And if there's anything we could use, it's a little humor in Washington. Right?
JAY LENO: You know something?
JOHN McCAIN: What do you think?
JAY LENO: You know, you make more in a good week in Vegas. The money sucks.
JOHN McCAIN: That's probably true.
JAY LENO: What is the biggest issue for you?
The economy or the war in Iraq?
JOHN McCAIN: I think both. Right now we've got some very tough times economically. I think we can get through it. I think the struggle against radical Islamic extremism is with us for a long time. I think this guy Osama bin Laden gets his message out over the Internet. We've got to get him. My friends, I'll get Osama bin Laden. I'll get him. We'll bring him to justice.
JAY LENO: Didn't you once say we could be in Iraq for a hundred years.
JOHN McCAIN: Yeah, but the point is it's not American presence; it's American casualties. The casualties are coming down; we are succeeding. We're in Kuwait, right next door. We're in Turkey. We're all over the world. The point is that we are succeeding, and the Iraqi military must take over those responsibilities. Our troops withdraw to bases. If there's some kind of agreement like there is between United States and Kuwait, fine, but the point is American casualties. And it's sad, and it breaks your heart, but I do believe that, if you pull the plug, the way Senator Clinton and Senator Obama want, then all of those deaths ‑‑ well, let me just say, I think it would be greater chaos, and we would be surrendering, and I don't think they want that. The young people are telling me, "Let us win."
JAY LENO: Now, when you were a young man starting your political career, Reagan was running for President. Did you go, "That guy is way too old"?
JOHN McCAIN: I never thought that. I remember him saying he was going to campaign, when he was running for President, in all 13 states.
JAY LENO: Really.
JOHN McCAIN: I never thought he was too old.
JAY LENO: How important is the Rudy Giuliani endorsement?
JOHN McCAIN: Well, Rudy Giuliani is one of the great American heroes. All of us remember after 9/11 the way he united our nation.
Why don't you ask Rudy?
(Entrance by Rudy Giuliani.)
Wow. Well, that's pretty cool. How are you?
RUDY GIULIANI: Just like that.
JAY LENO: You know something? I must say since yesterday, you look so relaxed.
I mean that in a good way.
RUDY GIULIANI: I guess in a way, sure. There's a certain amount of disappointment because, when you run for President, you want to win. I thought I was the best, but I did announce at one debate that, if I weren't running, my candidate would be John McCain.
JAY LENO: Can you stick around?
JAY LENO: Can you stay?
JAY LENO: I want to talk to you about this. Don't go away. More with Rudy Giuliani right after this.
(A break was taken.)
JAY LENO: We're back talking with the Senator John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Now, you two are friends. How did you guys meet?
RUDY GIULIANI: I met John when I was the mayor and he was the senator. I worked with him. I think we did some campaigning together and became good friends.
JOHN McCAIN: We became good friends from the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Diamondbacks. We went to Phoenix, Arizona, together. They played some games in New York City. And here we're sitting next to each other, 46,000 fans. Rudy Giuliani with a New York Yankees hat on, he shows up on the Jumbotron. 46,000 people stood and cheered and cheered because of what he'd done for America. That really cemented our friendship.
JAY LENO: Let me ‑‑ a lot of Republicans think you guys are too liberal. What do you think?
RUDY GIULIANI: I don't know who they are. Read the editorials about me when I was mayor of New York, and you would never ‑‑ everybody has their own definition of all of these things, but on national security, fiscal policies, just about all the ways in which you define conservative, I think both of us are conservative. But I think both of us also want to get things done. If you're mayor of a city like I was or a senator who's trying to get things done, you have to work with the other side. There are times in which you've got to accept three‑quarters of what you would like in order ‑‑ or maybe even half. Ronald Reagan taught me that. Ronald Reagan used to say it's better to get, you know, 70 or 80 percent than to get nothing at all.
JAY LENO: Right. You talked about your campaign because at this time last year ‑‑
RUDY GIULIANI: Do we have to?
JAY LENO: It's sort of fascinating to me because, at the time, maybe this time last year, Iraq and maybe national security were the issues, and that's your issue. You're the man on that. And then it seems to have switched to the economy. Do you think that might have explained some of the downturn?
RUDY GIULIANI: I think there are a lot of things that explain it. I don't think it's particularly that. I think the great campaign that he ran coming from where it looked like it was over, and John never accepted it was over. I was asked at the time if I thought it was over, and I said, "Wait and see," because of the way I know John is. I think his great campaign, some of the other things that happened in the early primaries ‑‑ I think that had more to do with it.
JAY LENO: How about putting all your eggs in one basket? Putting everything on Florida. What was the thinking there?
RUDY GIULIANI: The thinking was that that was the primary where we could do the best, and the damage was there was so many ‑‑ three or four primaries before ‑‑ and it was a strategy we had come to. It was a strategy we believed in, and it was obviously one that didn't work.
JOHN McCAIN: It also was an honorable campaign, a very honorable campaign. I've lost campaigns, and I think one of the important things is how you look back on how you conducted it. I think it was an honorable campaign.
JAY LENO: Could you ever be a running mate? Would you ever be a running mate? Is that something you would consider?
RUDY GIULIANI: No one runs as a running mate. I was asked that question a number of times when I was a candidate for President, and what I said was, "You don't make decisions like that until you're the nominee, and then you give it a lot of reflection. Nobody runs for it. The candidate has to have a total, absolutely open choice as to whoever they think is the best."
JAY LENO: If you were doing this all over again, would you have worked harder in those early primaries? Because it seems like once you get the headlines ‑‑
RUDY GIULIANI: Yeah, it's too early to say. It's too early to say. As you go back over ‑‑ what would you have done? This differently? That differently? The one good thing was I was able to come out of it feeling that we had highlighted a number of really important issues about very large tax reductions, single‑page tax return, sticking with what has to happen in Iraq, remaining on the offense against Islamic terrorism, and we came out of it with the ability to endorse a candidate I really believe in. So we're okay with it.
JAY LENO: Who would you rather campaign against? Who do you want to see get the nomination, Hillary or Obama? Who would be harder to beat?
RUDY GIULIANI: I think both are formidable. I think you shouldn't underestimate, but both ‑‑ I think that the fact that I am a conservative and, I think, in tune with most of the American people, and we'll have a conservative Republican against a liberal Democrat, and that would be a respectful but very, very spirited debate. On John's behalf, though, John is a conservative, but John also has the ability to reach out at a number of these Democratic voters, and it makes him a candidate in states that other Republicans might not be a competitive candidate ‑‑ states like Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Connecticut, and here in California ‑‑ states that we haven't, as Republicans, been able to be competitive, and that's why I think he'll be our strongest candidate.
JAY LENO: Were you guys stunned by the Kennedy endorsement of Obama over Hillary? Did that come as a complete surprise to you?
JOHN McCAIN: I didn't know enough about it to have a thought about it.
JOHN McCAIN: I'm not that familiar with the leanings of the members of the party. So I really ‑‑ I honestly didn't know, and I don't know the dynamics, but it certainly has been a very interesting race to watch.
JAY LENO: One last question. You're the straight‑talk express. Who do got in the Super Bowl?
RUDY GIULIANI: New York Giants all the way.
Absolutely. All my life.
JOHN McCAIN: Arizona is the host of this.
JAY LENO: Who do you got?
JOHN McCAIN: Straight talk ‑‑ somebody is going to have to show me how you beat the Patriots.
RUDY GIULIANI: Will you give me the points?
JOHN McCAIN: Yes, I'll give you the points.
JAY LENO: There you go.
I know you guys have to go. You guys are on opposite sides again. That lasted for what? About 24 hours. Now you're fighting again. I know you guys have to run. Thank you, gentlemen, for coming.
JAY LENO: Good luck to you.
JOHN McCAIN: Thank you.
JAY LENO: So long, guys.

Requiem for Rudy

It’s a shame that Rudy Giuliani couldn’t have run for president in the fall of 2001. Back then, voters probably wouldn’t have cared if he skipped not just the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, but all of the Super Tuesday ones, too.

Whoever the Republicans nominate—John McCain or Mitt Romney—can be counted on to stay the course in Iraq (McCain in particular), but no candidate had the gravitas that Giuliani brought to the issue of terrorism. For Giuliani had experienced something that no recent American mayor, governor, or president had—a sneak attack, shocking and deadly, in which vital decisions needed to be made quickly and for which there was no script. Giuliani’s presidential campaign was criticized for what many saw as the candidate’s overemphasis on September 11—exemplified by Joseph Biden’s memorable line that Giuliani’s every sentence consisted of “a noun, a verb, and 9/11.” Perhaps there is some truth in this, though anyone who sat through the numbing presidential debates of the last six months would know that Giuliani had a wide-ranging platform on everything from economic policy to homeland security. But he couldn’t break through his image as the Mayor of 9/11, and it is a measure of our distance from the events of that day that Giuliani came to seem a relic, a candidate whose moment had passed.

He was no relic that morning, or for years afterward. What Giuliani’s many detractors don’t even pretend to deny is that on that horrific day, his performance was breathtaking. In the heat of the moment, similarly unrehearsed, President Bush looked like a flop. He later recovered, but his fumbling first appearances, disappearance for the bulk of the day, and feeble, demoralizing speech that night made for a harsh contrast with Giuliani’s stirring presence.

Rarely in recent American history had a political leader received such a visible testing ground for the character of his leadership. Giuliani projected a profound, steely calm, and an all-encompassing competence—announcing the latest street closings or bus service changes one minute, pledging resolve and stressing American unity the next, reassuring New Yorkers all the while. He also provided Americans with a lesson in the old-school stoicism that is rapidly passing from our national life. Yet it was a stoicism that left no doubt about the suffering inside. Asked for an update on casualty figures at one point, he shook his head and said unforgettably that the losses would be “more than we can bear.”

It was in the ruins of Ground Zero, of course, that Giuliani’s presidential ambitions became plausible. His mayoral record in New York prior to September 11 more than justified a presidential run, but New York mayors, even great ones, are never considered presidential timber, barring some unique and monumental circumstance. Giuliani’s campaign difficulties have been well documented—from his moderate stands on social issues to his messy personal life, from his questionable primary strategy to his sometimes baffling passivity as a candidate. But his departure from the presidential field represents, in the end, a symbolic break from the preeminence of September 11 in our national consciousness. The psychologists tell us that we need closure—as if anything short of death ever wraps up conclusively—and one way or another, we have all long since moved on personally from that day. But Giuliani’s absence from the campaign will remove a visceral political reminder as well—a flesh-and-blood mayor who stood, covered in ash, and spoke to the nation’s greatest city on its darkest day. None of the remaining candidates can match his standard of
leadership and record of accomplishment; one hopes that we choose wisely in his stead.

Perhaps Giuliani should blame Bush for his campaign’s demise. If Bush had not been so successful in preventing another domestic terrorist attack, Giuliani’s relevance to voters would be painfully obvious, and his deviations from party orthodoxy less compelling. Instead, he and Bush, the two public figures most associated with September 11, will watch from the sidelines as America turns the page.

Paul Beston, sul City Journal.