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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Sen. McCain comes to Hanover Inn for fundraising dinner

Senator John McCain (R-Az) -- who last week announced his formal intention to seek candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination -- focused on Kosovo developments at the Grofton County Republican Convention at the Hanover Inn yesterday.

Although McCain's office has said he will not announce his official campaign until "the Kosovo situation has stabilized", his exploratory committee decided to toss in his hat and launch the McCain 2000 campaign.

The banquet speech, dotted with jokes and humor, centered on the issues of the situation in Kosovo and the importance of combating voter apathy in the younger generation of eligible voters.

Of his campaign strategy, McCain said, "We'll win this race. One of the ways I'm going to win it is I'm going to tell it exactly like it is, even if it offends some people, even if some people don't like it rather than doing some poll and telling people what they want to hear."

Prior to the banquet question and answer, McCain met with Lebanon caucus members and about 20 student supporters from the Conservative Union at Dartmouth emphasized his focus on the 18 to 26 year-old age group of voters.

"Our voter turnout in the 1998 election was the lowest 18-26 year old vote in history," McCain told the students.

McCain said he believes a way to increase interest from this much sought-after voting group among candidates will be "to restore respect for the institutions of government and the office of the President" through campaign finance reform and personal integrity.

Despite the air bombing campaign by NATO, McCain's often controversial position on the Kosovo affair takes the demand for success in the conflict to another stage including supporting the option of sending American ground troops into Kosovo.

"We have to do what is necessary to win," he said. "We're in it and we've got to win a victory as soon as possible."

Clinton has come under attack for his lack of a clearly defined exit strategy in the Kosovo situation, but McCain carefully stated the terms of a disengagement from the war-torn Balkans.

McCain told The Dartmouth, "Exit strategy is victory -- which is that the Serbs are driven out of Kosovo, the ethnic Albanians are relocated in Kosovo ... their homes villages are rebuilt and there be an international peacekeeping force. In order to achieve that we need to beat Milosovic militarily."

Asked whether the removal of President Slobadon Milosevic was called for he said, "I think he would go if we defeated him militarily because he has so little support ... but I think he's a war criminal, I think he's a terrible guy but the goal now has to be to defeat him first."

After his introduction to the crowd of approximately 150 New Hampshire Republicans, the Arizona Senator interrupted his speech to insure that students in the back of the room could hear his remarks again citing the importance of young people in the upcoming election.

The leadership of this country has failed at several points to avoid the Kosovo conflict, McCain said.

After the bombing of Bosnia and Croatian defeat of the Serb army, Milosevic came to Dayton, Ohio to sign a peace treaty "at that time they should have said Milosevic we've got a problem in Kosovo and we need to settle that too."

McCain accused the Clinton administration of underestimating Milosevic's leadership dexterity thinking that dropping a few bombs in Kosovo would bring him back to the bargaining table and effect his signing of the Rambouillet treaty.

As a result, the credibility of NATO and the United States are at risk.

"When I argue we must be prepared to use ground forces if necessary ... when I urge that course of action on the President of the United States I do not take that responsibility lightly," he said. "I take responsibility for the loss of young Americans which will take place if we have to get into a ground war there."

McCain said he includes the option of ground troops because to limit options in warfare compromises the success of the mission against an adversary.

"We have to chose the least-bad option and that is victory."

In addition to voting interest-increase, a return of respect to the national government and campaign finance reform, McCain also spoke on education, taxes and decrease in the size of the government -- part of the possible platforms of his Republican campaign.

A student in the audience asked McCain to speculate on his choice of a running mate in the 2000 elections, either Elizabeth Dole or George W. Bush. McCain brushed off the inquiry saying, "So far from ... obtaining the nomination I have not considered that option."

The bonafide war-hero and American "Maverick" is a Vietnam War veteran and Prisoner of War held in Hanoi for five and a half years -- he has received numerous naval honors including the Silver Star and the Purple Heart and has served in Congress for 17 years.

The funds raised at the banquet go to support local House and Senate Republican candidates and congress men and women.