What they are Saying about Sen McCain & the debate

McCain Turned In "Solid," "Passionate" And "Effective" Performance

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood: McCain Was "Effective ... Looked Good." "He does have a fairly effective Republican rival in John McCain who was effective in last night's debate ... I thought McCain looked good ... he got off a strong response to Romney ..." (MSNBC's "Gregory Live," 5/16/07)

Slate's John Dickerson: McCain Turned In "Solid Performance." "McCain did pretty well. He stood by some of his decisions that have caused him trouble in Republican circles. That works for him because of his reputation of speaking his mind. and he had a pretty solid performance last night ..." (CNN's "American Morning," 5/16/07)

Spartanburg Herald-Journal's
Michael Smith:
McCain "Reasonable" And "Passionate." "Tonight ... John McCain made the most ground. ... [McCain] sounded more reasonable on the subject of Iraq and terrorism, pointing out that if America leaves Iraq, the conflict will follow us home. He was passionate in his rejection of torture, protecting the nature and values of this nation. He responded appropriately to the question of the Confederate flag, saying it was time to move on." (Michael Smith, Spartanburg Herald-Journal's "BlogHub" Blog, "Giuliani, McCain Make Best Impression," www.bloghub.goupstate.com, 5/15/07)

The Politico's Jonathan Martin: McCain's "Experience Showed." "One of the biggest benefits that the Arizonan enjoys in the campaign -- and it's not mentioned often enough is that he has run this incomparable gauntlet before. That experience showed tonight. He delivered his Iraq views effectively, had the chance to hit his spending message and concurrent drunken sailor joke (still a new line to hundreds in the audience) and, most impressively, was able to deflect tough questions in a way that also jibed with the broader themes of his candidacy." (Jonathan Martin, The Politico's "Smith And Martin" Blog, "SC Debate: Final Thoughts," www.politico.com, 5/16/07)

CNN's Jacki Schechner: Political Blogs Gave McCain "A Lot Of Kudos" And Say "He Looked Strong Last Night." "There was a lot of kudos for McCain [from political blogs] that he had good opportunities that he took advantage of, that he looked strong last night " (CNN's "American Morning," 5/16/07)

Townhall's Mary Katharine Ham: "I noticed that several other candidates, on several occasions referred back to things McCain said with, 'Sen. McCain is right ...'" (Mary Katharine Ham, "Townhall" Blog, "Winners, Losers And Slapfights, Baby!" www.townhall.com, 5/15/07)

The Politico's Roger Simon: "McCain ... hit his talking points: He would reach across the aisle to Democrats; he has consistently been a conservative; and 'my life, my experience, my knowledge of the military and national security qualifies me most to lead.'" (Roger Simon, "Gloves Come Off At Second GOP Debate," www.politico.com, 5/16/07)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "He's been to war ... He knows what war is about. He understands our enemy. He's going to make sure that this nation is well defended, and he understands what an American is all about. We're the good guys." (Byron York, "Giuliani Up, McCain Up, Romney Down, and Ron Paul Out Way Out," National Review Online, 5/16/07)

McCain "Drew Thunderous Applause" And Delivered "Most Important Answer Of The Night"

CBS' Harry Smith: McCain Answered Confederate Flag Question "To Thunderous Applause." CBS' HARRY SMITH: "[O]n that particular subject was the Confederate flag. He was asked about it last night. Let's take a look." SEN. MCCAIN: "I still believe that it should not have flown over the capital and I was wrong when I said that it was a state issue, but now I think it has been settled and I think it's time we all moved on on this issue." SMITH: "To thunderous applause, I might add." (CBS' "The Early Show," 5/16/07)

· CBS' Jeff Greenfield: McCain Made "One Of The Most Important Local Comments," Discussing Confederate Flag To "Thunderous Applause." CBS' JEFF GREENFIELD: "That was also key, and that was one of the most important local comments if not the most important made. You're quite right. ... This was an appeal to South Carolina Republicans saying 'I'm with you ... It's over, you handled it correctly.' That thunderous applause was clear, at least in my mind, that McCain had made some points in South Carolina, which, as you point out, is a key early primary state." (CBS' "The Early Show," 5/16/07)

Charleston Post And Courier's Robert Behre: McCain "Drew Heavy Applause." "While the debate was held just blocks from where a Confederate battle flag flies on the Statehouse grounds, only one question directed to McCain touched on the flag. McCain said he was wrong to say previously that it was a state issue when the flag flew above the dome, but he then drew heavy applause from the partisan crowd by adding, I think it's time we all moved on on this issue.'" (Robert Behre, "Hopefuls Debate Terror Question," The [Charleston] Post And Courier, 5/16/07)

Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan And Mark Z. Barabak: McCain "Drew Thunderous Acclamation From The Crowd." "'I was wrong when I said that it was a state issue,' McCain said solemnly. 'But now I think it has been settled, and I think it's time that we all moved on on this issue especially the people of South Carolina.' His response drew thunderous acclamation from the crowd." (Michael Finnegan and Mark Z. Barabak, "A Feisty Republican Debate In South Carolina," Los Angeles Times, 5/16/07)

TigerHawk Blog: McCain Won The "Biggest Applause Of The Night." "To McCain: The Stars and Bars question, summon[in]g moans from the crowd! 'It is settled. I think it is time that we all moved on on this issue.' Biggest applause of the night." (TigerHawk, "Tiger Hawk" Blog, "The GOP Debate Live-Blog Post," tigerhawk.blogspot.com, 5/15/07)

· TigerHawk Blog: Discussing Iraq, McCain Delivered "A Solid Response, The Best Line." "First question to McCain: Why should Americans continue to fight and die when Iraqi politicians do so little? McCain: A solid response, the best line: 'When we lost the war in Vietnam, they didn't follow us home. They will this time.'" (TigerHawk, "Tiger Hawk" Blog, "The GOP Debate Live-Blog Post," tigerhawk.blogspot.com, 5/15/07)

The Heritage Foundation's Robert Bluey: "McCain Got It Right" On Spending. "Sen. John McCain got it right at the presidential debate when he said: Spending is out of control. We didn't lose the 2006 election because the war in Iraq. We lost it because we in the Republican Party came to Washington to change government and government changed us. We let spending go out of control. We spent money like a drunken sailor, although I never knew a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of my colleagues.'" (Robert Bluey, "Bluey" Blog, "I Wonder What Tom Cole Thinks Of This?" robertbluey.com, 5/16/07)

Voters Praise McCain

David Haskins Of Greenville, SC: "I may not agree with him on every issue ... but I know he votes based on principle, not because that's what the head of the party wants him to do or even the [public] wants him to do." (Scott Helman, "GOP Foes Tout Conservative Credentials," The Boston Globe, 5/16/07)

Cicely Greaves-Vegas Of Yonkers, NY: McCain Is Gutsy. "[C]icely Greaves-Vega, 47, of Yonkers ... praised ... Arizona Sen. John McCain, whom she found gutsy for saying he was wrong' in a past position about the Confederate flag flying from the South Carolina Capitol building." (Maggie Haberman, "Abort Stance Clear: Panel," New York Post, 5/16/07)

Blake Bryson Of Lake Wylie, SC: "McCain is the only candidate who can win and work with the Democratic Congress ... He can get things done. He can handle the job." (Andrew Dys, "They Love Their Country And All Things GOP," The Herald, 5/16/07)

· Bryson: It Is "An Honor" To Stand Up For McCain, "This Is Who I Want To Lead My Country." "'I'm here because this is my future, the future of all of us in this country. It is my generation's time to get involved.' Bryson called it 'an honor' to stand up for his candidate, with a 12-foot sign. 'People died in this country so I could vote, so I could stand here and say, "This is who I want to lead my country."'" (Andrew Dys, "They Love Their Country And All Things GOP," The Herald, 5/16/07)

McCain Won The Debate, Continues On A Roll With "His Mojo Back" And "His Engine On"

NBC's First Read: "If This Were A Boxing Match" McCain Won. "McCain: If this were a boxing match, we probably would have scored it for McCain on points over the other rivals. He deftly handled every critique ..." (NBC's "First Read," 5/16/07)

Time's Mark Halperin: McCain Got "His Mojo Back" And Delivered "Genuine Views ... All His Aces." "[McCain] Got some of his mojo back. Several answers especially on twin vulnerabilities of Iraq and immigration channeled his genuine views and transcended mere debate prep. Sold bipartisanship, hard choices, fiscal discipline, anti-torture, and experience all his aces." (Mark Halperin, "The Second Republican Debate," Time, 5/16/07)

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "McCain is really coming back ... he is tough." (MSNBC's "Gregory Live," 5/16/07)

· Matthews: McCain "Looks Like He Has Got His Engine On." "I think we are going through one of these periods where McCain is making something of a comeback and getting much tougher and I think the fact that he looks like he has got his engine on helps him." (MSNBC's "Gregory Live," 5/16/07)

National Review Commentator T.J. Walker: "John McCain is back!" ("The Second Date," National Review Online, 5/16/07)

Slate's John Dickerson: McCain "Had A Good Night." "McCain also had a good night. ... Perhaps the most impressive moment for McCain came when he reasserted his opposition to torturing terrorist suspects." (John Dickerson, "Fox And Frienemies," www.slate.com, 5/16/07)

The Politico's Jim VandeHei: McCain Delivered "A Great Exchange ... Very Crisp." "McCain is basically saying you're a flip-flopper and he is going right after him on what everyone knows is the fundamental weakness of the Romney campaign. It was a great exchange. Again, it was very crisp and people could clearly understand the dynamic. McCain went on TV afterwards and even amplified the remarks: said listen, I felt like I was under attack and I got to draw the line and I got to push back." (CNN's "American Morning," 5/16/07)

McCain Showcased Strength, Experience, And Ability To Lead On Day One

NBC's Chuck Todd: McCain "Looked Strong," "Animated" And "Funny." "John McCain was John McCain. He looked strong, he looked animated and he looked funny again. He cracked jokes ... and I think that that helped him a lot." (MSNBC's "News Live," 5/16/07)

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): McCain "Passionate" And "Very Genuine," Showed He "Could Become President On Day One With No Learning Curve." "[J]ohn was passionate last night, he looked like a guy that could become president on day one with no learning curve. But more importantly, he's exactly where he's been his entire life on the issues. John McCain was very genuine and it was from the heart last night, and a year from now, he's going to be in the same position on those issues." (Fox News' "Fox And Friends," 5/16/07)

· Burr: McCain Is A "Straight-Shooter" Who Understands The War On Terror. "I believe John McCain is going to be the same straight-shooter that in the year 2000 was very competitive in the presidential race, and more importantly, a person who understands how important it is to end the war on terror because we've eliminated the threat." (Fox News' "Fox And Friends," 5/16/07)

NBC's Andrea Mitchell: McCain "The Only Candidate ... [With] His Own Unique Credentials." "McCain seemed to be recapturing the old McCain. ... [H]e was basically saying, 'I am who I am. Take me or leave me. This is who I am.' He was the only candidate who really spoke out and has, you know, his own unique credentials for that against torture, whereas the others were all trying to outdo each other." (MSNBC's "Gregory Live," 5/16/07)

Newsday's Dan Janison: "McCain, the former Prisoner of War, spoke with feeling against the use of torture both tactically and morally." (Dan Janison, [New York] Newsday's "Spin Cycle" Blog, "The Real Rudy Moment, Before And After ...," weblogs.newsday.com, 5/16/07)

Former Secretary Of State Bill Jones (R-CA): Debate Showed "McCain Clearly Stands Above The Field" And "Is Uniquely Qualified To Guide America Through These Challenging Times." "Last night's presidential debate in South Carolina showed that John McCain clearly stands above the field when it comes to the fundamental question of who is prepared to lead America, right now. To be sure, each of our Republican candidates offers their own distinctive set of credentials, but none are as uniquely qualified to guide America through these challenging times as John McCain." (Bill Jones, "Flash Report" Blog, "John McCain Will Do What Is Right For America," www.flashreport.org, 5/16/07)

· Jones: McCain "The Best Messenger On Stage For The Party Of Reagan ... In His Comfort Zone Railing Against Excessive Spending In Washington." "Last night, the best messenger on stage for the party of Reagan was clearly John McCain. His steadfast commitment to conservative principles and the defense of traditional values is what our party needs in its next standard-bearer, and his peerless experience in public service is what our country needs in its next President. ... Last night's debate also found John McCain in his comfort zone railing against excessive spending in Washington." (Bill Jones, "Flash Report" Blog, "John McCain Will Do What Is Right For America," www.flashreport.org, 5/16/07)

· Jones: McCain Exhibited "Energy, Passion, And Forthrightness," And "Is Only One Who Has Consistently Represented The Core Beliefs Of Our Party." "After having watched the debate and seen some of the commentary afterwards, I think it is now crystal clear that among the leading candidates, there is only one who has consistently represented the core beliefs of our party, and that is John McCain. ... We learned long ago that there's no quit in John McCain. His energy, passion, and forthrightness during these debates have reminded us that he has already been tested on the national stage; we can trust that he will never allow anyone or anything to come in between him and his obligation to do what's right for America." (Bill Jones, "Flash Report" Blog, "John McCain Will Do What Is Right For America," www.flashreport.org, 5/16/07)

Power Line's John Hinderaker: McCain "Did Well." "McCain had several good opportunities, and did well with them. ... McCain also got in a slam at Congress under the Democrats its current approval level is accounted for by staffers and relatives ..." (John Hinderaker, "Power Line" Blog, "Impressions," powerlineblog.com, 5/16/07)

McCain's Remarks Won Laughter And Applause

The Politico's Mike Allen: McCain's Remarks On Spending "Got Laughter And Applause." "McCain got laughter and applause for: 'We let spending go out of control. We spent money like a drunken sailor, although I never knew a sailor drunk or sober with the imagination of my colleagues. By the way, I received an e-mail not long ago from a fellow who said I repeat this story "As a former drunken sailor, I resent the way that [drunken sailors continue] being compared to members of Congress."'" (Mike Allen, "Playbook: Fight Night," www.politico.com, 5/16/07)

Rich Galen: "McCain Performed Well" And Got Laughs Talking About Spending. "McCain performed well. ... He got another laugh by repeating his line about a drunken sailor e-mailing him complaining that he was tired of being compared to Congress." (Rich Galen, "The GOP Debate II," CNS News, 5/16/07)

CNN's John Roberts: McCain Delivered "Humorous Moment" On Spending. "And there [were] a couple humorous moments, as well. John McCain, trotted out again, it's a pretty tried and true line for him. But it worked really well last night, that Congress is spending like drunken sailors and you know I know a drunken sailor who said I take offense at that." (CNN's "American Morning," 5/16/07)

McCain Knocked Questions "Out Of The Park"

Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss: Sticking To Convictions Is "A Big Part Of [McCain's] Persona, And You Saw It Last Night." MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: "It's hard, although I think the people running the debate did a great job. You know, one thing you really look for is conviction. And I love the fact that people mentioned Ronald Reagan so much." ... FOX NEWS' BRIAN KILMEADE: "So then John McCain should love what you just said, Michael. Because doesn't he stick with his convictions, right or wrong?" BESCHLOSS: "I think that that's a big part of his persona, and you saw it last night on Guantanamo and Iraq ... " (Fox News' "Fox And Friends," 5/16/07)

National Review's Michael Graham: McCain Knocked Confederate Flag Question "Out Of The Park" As The Crowd "Roared Their Approval." "One Confederate-flag question for Sen. McCain, a reasonable one related to his 2000 campaign, which he promptly knocked out of the park by essentially saying, 'Don't we have more important things to talk about?' The thousands of South Carolina Republicans in attendance roared their approval." (Michael Graham, National Review's "The Corner" Blog, "The No Nonsense Debate," www.nationalreview.com, 5/16/07)

· Graham: McCain Delivered "Effective ... Serious And Substantive" Answer On Iraq. "There were other effective moments during the debate ... McCain's defense of the Iraq war. They were effective answers because they were serious and substantive, not pandering ... " (Michael Graham, National Review's "The Corner" Blog, "The No Nonsense Debate," www.nationalreview.com, 5/16/07)

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: McCain "Nailed A Number Of Key Policy Questions" And Showed He's "Best Able To Lead Given His Life Experience." "[McCain] nailed a number of key policy questions and generally stuck to his guns. Last night, McCain more successfully married style and substance. He was active without appearing antic and presented himself as [the] candidate best able to lead given his life experience." (Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, "GOP Debate: Winners And Losers," blog.washingtonpost.com, 5/16/07)

· Cillizza: "McCain Flashed His Wit" With Joke About Drunken Sailors And Congressional Spending. "McCain flashed his wit with his ... story about a former drunken sailor who took offense at having his spending habits compared to those of Congress." (Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, "GOP Debate: Winners And Losers," blog.washingtonpost.com, 5/16/07)

South Carolina '08 Blog: "McCain stood his ground on several tough issues and expertly handled the Confederate flag issue." (Baufmuth, "South Carolina 08" Blog, "Thoughts On Last Night's Debate ..." www.southcarolina08.com, 5/16/07)

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood: McCain "Had A Very Good Night." "[M]cCain had a very good night ... He was vigorous without being too energetic ..." (MSNBC's "News Live," 5/16/07)

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): "Nobody Understands The Issue Of Torture Better" Than John McCain. "You also have to keep in mind the importance of protecting men and women in uniform American men and women in uniform who serve beyond our shores. I think that was a point that John McCain raised. Nobody understands the issue of torture better than he does. I think he was responding in a way that's consistent with his experience but also understanding the importance of getting actionable intelligence that would prevent a future attack." (Fox News' "News Live," 5/16/07)

McCain Stood His Ground In Face Of Attacks, Delivered "One Of The Toughest Lines Of The Night"

New York Observer's Steve Kornacki: McCain "Put His Opponent In His Place." "After Mr. Romney very cutely referred to Mr. McCain's immigration plan as 'McCain-Kennedy' three times and then strained to tie it to 'McCain-Feingold' the Arizona senator moved to put his opponent in his place. 'I haven't changed my positions in even-numbered years, and I haven't changed my positions because of different offices I'm running for,' he said, to some surprising applause from the audience." (Steve Kornacki, New York Observer's "Bridal" Blog, "At Debate, Rudy Stops His Skid, Romney Wiltsby," thebridalblog.observer.com, 5/16/07)

Fox News' Carl Cameron: McCain Responded To Attack By Giving "One Of The Toughest Lines Of The Night." "[M]itt Romney, who took a shot at John McCain for some of the legislation that McCain is best known for, in each case working across party lines with Democrats. That prompted McCain to fire back about what some consider Romney's flip-flops in the past five years. ... Ouch. That was probably one of the toughest lines of the night." (Fox News' "News Live," 5/16/07)

Human Event's Jennifer Rubin: McCain Response To Attack Was "Best Counterpunch." "BEST COUNTERPUNCH: After Romney declared that he did not want McCain-Kennedy immigration reform to do for immigration what McCain-Feingold did for campaign finance, McCain retorted that he had taken and kept consistent positions on campaign finance reform and right to life and 'I haven't changed my position on even numbered years or changed because of the different offices I may be running for.' (Chris Wallace did not contain his laughter.)" (Jennifer Rubin, "Recap And Awards For Debate Winners," Human Events, 5/16/07)

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "McCain Also Showed He's Not Afraid To Throw An Elbow." "McCain also showed he's not afraid to throw an elbow after former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) criticized McCain's support for immigration reform and campaign finance reform. 'I have kept a consistent position on right to life,' McCain said. 'And I haven't changed my position on even-numbered years or have changed because of the different offices that I may be running for.'" (Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, "GOP Debate: Winners And Losers," blog.washingtonpost.com, 5/16/07)