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During a March 15 report on 2008 presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in which ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper is seen interviewing McCain aboard McCain's campaign bus, the "Straight Talk Express," Tapper asserted that, now that the "bus is back," so is "McCain's willingness to entertain any question." In fact, McCain has reportedly "steered clear of offering opinions on two of the biggest issues on the political landscape this week," in the words of New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney in a March 16 article. Specifically, according to the Times:
He declined to say whether he agreed with the assertion by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that homosexuality is immoral, or whether he thought Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales should be ousted for his handling of the firing of federal prosecutors.
During his interview with McCain, Tapper also asked the senator: "Do you have the fire in the belly -- to win this -- like you did last time?" and noted during the report that McCain "appreciates irony in literature."
From the March 15 broadcast of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
GIBSON: Out on the political trail, today, a phenomenon that we haven't seen in seven years. John McCain, out on the campaign trail in the familiar campaign vehicle he used when he ran against George Bush for the Republican nomination in the year 2000. He came so close to winning the nomination that year, but this year? ABC's Jake Tapper is on the road with the Arizona senator.
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TAPPER (voice-over): The bus is back, and with it, McCain's willingness to entertain any question.
TAPPER: Do you have the fire in the belly -- to win this -- like you did last time?
McCAIN: Sure, I even had it the last time. Listen, Jake, this is the first time we've been on the bus, but we've been working at this for well over a year. We've been trying to lay the political and financial base.
TAPPER: But all that planning and McCain's, somewhat, more cautious nature today as a front-runner --
McCAIN: Well, these are different times, as you know.
TAPPER: -- means his campaign has taken on a distinctly different tone, less joyful, more severe, more emphasis on his conservative credentials.
McCAIN: I strongly support the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.
TAPPER: And while McCain professes more moderate views on immigration and other issues --
McCAIN: I strongly feel that climate change is taking place.
TAPPER: -- what once seemed his greatest strength -- his popularity with moderates and independents -- has dissolved because of his strong support for President Bush's re-election and for the president's war, a war McCain has linked to more than any other candidate. Will it doom him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States, Senator John McCain.
TAPPER: At a town meeting today in Ames, Iowa, McCain made this revealing gaffe when discussing Republican losses at the polls last November.
McCAIN: One of the reasons why the Republicans lost the war -- oh, excuse me -- lost the last election was not because of the war, but because of spending.
TAPPER: Do you find any irony in the sense that you're struggling a little bit now because you're so closely tied to somebody who once was your biggest political enemy? You're a man who appreciates irony in literature.
McCAIN: Yeah, yeah. There's been -- there is irony and that I was the greatest critic of the conduct of the war and one of the earliest, and now I'm being tied to it. As far as the war is concerned, it's far more important -- I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war.
TAPPER: McCain, at one point today, was going to cancel some of his Iowa campaign activities, such as this town hall meeting here in Mason City, Iowa, Charlie, to fly back to Washington, D.C., to vote on Iraq legislation in the Senate but, ultimately, he decided not to do so. The war in Iraq has already impeded his presidential plans enough.