The World According to John McCain

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - Sen. John McCain fully launched himself into the general election campaign on Thursday, outlining what he hopes to achieve as president. To hear him tell it, the world will be much improved in four years -- in all ways -- because of his leadership.

Speaking at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, McCain said it's important to define, in clear language, what "I intend to achieve."

Throughout the speech, McCain spoke in the present tense -- listing accomplishment after accomplishment, as if were giving the speech four years from now, at the end of his first term.

"If I am elected president, I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to get this country moving again," McCain said, after presenting a rosy view of the United States in the year 2013.

"I will listen to any idea that is offered in good faith and intended to help solve our problems, not make them worse. I will seek the counsel of members of Congress from both parties in forming government policy before I ask them to support it. I will ask Democrats to serve in my administration. My administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability. I will hold weekly press conferences.

"I will regularly brief the American people on the progress our policies have made and the setbacks we have encountered. When we make errors, I will confess them readily, and explain what we intend to do to correct them. I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons."

McCain's to-do list

By January 2013, McCain envisions Americans welcoming home "most of the servicemen and women" who have served in Iraq.

McCain said the Iraq war will be won; Iraq will be a functioning democracy, and any lingering violence will be "spasmodic and much reduced." He envisions the disbanding of the Iraqi militias, the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq; a professional and competent Iraqi security force -- and a functioning and authoritative Iraqi government.

America will have a small military presence in Iraq, he said, but U.S. troops will not play a direct combat role.

(Editor's note: Much of the applause for McCain's speech seemed perfunctory. At some points, McCain paused, apparently waiting for the clapping to begin.)

By the end of McCain's first term, "there's no longer any place in the world al Qaeda can consider a safe haven," he said. There will be no major terror attacks in the U.S. during his first term, he predicted.

McCain said the U.S. and its allies will have made great progress in achieving nuclear security. "The prospect of nuclear materials in the hands of terrorists has been vastly diminished," he said.

He said the U.S. military will be stronger than ever: "The size of the Army and Marine Corps has been significantly increased and are now better equipped and trained to defend us."

McCain also mentioned a "newly formed League of Democracies" that will act where the United Nations has failed to act -- in Sudan and in other places where gross human rights abuses are happening.

He predicted robust economic growth, a reduction in the corporate tax rate, a low capital gains rate. He said an elimination of tax loopholes and "corporate welfare" will "spur innovation and productivity and encourage companies to keep their operations and jobs" in the U.S.

McCain predicted the Alternative Minimum Tax would be phased out; the child exemption will be doubled; and Congress will have passed a tax reform package, giving taxpayers a choice of filing under the current tax code -- or using a "new simpler, fairer, and flatter tax with two rates."

McCain joked that after "exercising my veto several times in my first year in office, Congress has not sent me an appropriations bill containing earmarks for the last three years."

McCain promised a "top to bottom review" of the entire federal bureaucracy and a reduction in programs that "serve no important purpose."

He said U.S. tariffs on agricultural imports will be eliminated, and unneeded farm subsidies will be phased out. The world food crisis will be over, prices will be low, and the quality of life will be better in countries around the world.

McCain said Americans who lost jobs in the global economy will benefit from "reformed unemployment insurance" and job retraining programs.

He predicted improvements in public education, thanks to competition provided by public and charter schools. He hailed the anticipated addition of "quality teachers."

Health care will be "more accessible to more Americans than at any other time in history," McCain said.

The United States will be "well on the way to independence from foreign sources of oil," McCain said.

Touching on climate change -- a topic that has inflamed rank-and-file conservatives -- McCain said a new cap and trade system will have spurred the development of green technologies and alternative energy sources. "Clean coal technology will advance with federal assistance. Construction will begin on twenty new nuclear reactors, thanks to improved incentives and a streamlined regulatory process."

"Scores of judges" will be confirmed to the federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. These new judges will "understand that they were not sent there to write our laws but to enforce them and make sure they are consistent with the Constitution."

The southern border will be secure -- "after tremendous improvements to border security infrastructure and increases in the border patrol, and vigorous prosecution of companies that employ illegal aliens."

McCain said he envisions the presidential campaign as "an argument among friends." But there was nothing friendly about the Democrat Party's response to his speech.

"During his remarks in Ohio this morning, Senator John McCain outlined a fictional account of what he expects the American people to believe he will do as president. In reality, on each of the issues he addresses, Senator McCain has either failed to outline any plans or has actually promised outdated ideas that would make the problem worse," the Democratic National Committee said.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean accused McCain of "taking President Bush's fiscal policies to new extremes, continuing a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq that has distracted from the real war on terror, (and) pretending he would bring transparency to government after refusing to even release his own tax records."

Dean called McCain "the wrong choice for America's future."

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