WASHINGTON — Senior Republican Senator John McCain, who has endorsed Mitt Romney to challenge President Barack Obama, on Wednesday admitted he was worried about his party’s chances of retaking the White House.
After Romney claimed six out of 10 contests on “Super Tuesday,” including the key battleground of Ohio, McCain told CBS News that the bruising battle for the Republican nomination was hurting the party in the long run.
“The longer this goes on, the worse our chances are,” McCain said, according to a transcript of the interview for the “Face to Face” program released by CBS.
“Every day between now and November that is devoted to winning the primary is lost on winning the general election. And that, I have to tell you, it makes me very worried about our chances to win in November.”
Since the Republican presidential nominating contests began in January, various candidates have risen as the best conservative alternative to the frontrunner Romney, only to quickly fade away.
Romney meanwhile has still failed to energize the divided party’s conservative base — something which McCain said he could not understand.
The Arizona senator accused both former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum of “corruption.”
“It’s curious to me that ‘conservatives’ are supporting Santorum or Gingrich, who were earmarkers and pork-barrelers (during their terms in Congress), which is corruption,” McCain said.
But McCain, who has long publicly battled earmarks, said it was not up to him to call for Gingrich or Santorum to quit the race.
Instead, he urged Romney to “to focus a little bit more… on what he’s going to do on the economy and jobs.”
“You know that every single day of a campaign is a day you can’t do over,” said McCain, noting that a candidate’s unfavorable ratings rise the longer a tough race drags on.
In 2008, McCain scored the Republican presidential nomination after Romney dropped out of the race, but lost the general election to Obama.