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McCain Would End Congress’ Pork

December 6, 1999

FARMINGTON, N.H. (AP) _ Sen. John McCain said Monday that if elected president he would close the government if necessary to curb pork-barrel spending by Congress.

On an unseasonably mild day, McCain warmed up for a later debate with his GOP rivals by continuing his question and answer sessions with New Hampshire voters.

The other five presidential candidates traveled to McCain’s home state of Arizona for the debate in Phoenix; McCain was participating by satellite so he could remain in New Hampshire, where some polls show him tied with front-runner George W. Bush.

McCain used several questions from the audience of about 100 at an early morning forum at Farmington’s Town Hall to explain the centerpiece of his campaign _ ridding politics of the influence of special-interest money.

``How would you make good on your promise when you’d be working with a Congress that has grown fat on pork and thin on service?″ one man asked.

McCain, R-Ariz., said he would veto every piece of special-interest spending he could. If Congress overrode him, he said he would tell the public who was behind the misuse of their tax dollars.

``I’d make them famous. I’d go on the radio the next Saturday and say, ’My fellow Americans, I think you should know Senator X has $2 million in this bill for manure-handling,‴ he said.

Another man asked McCain if he would really veto all the spending bills and allow the government to shut down, just to make a point.

``Sure I would,″ he replied. ``If we don’t change business as usual in Washington, people will be deprived of their representation.″

McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, said afterward that the senator does think a government shut down is in the cards. ``As president, John McCain will work with the Republican Congress to make these changes and has no doubt they will work with him on the issues, without the need to shut down the government,″ he said.

McCain commented as the campaign released his newest television ad, a 30-second spot emphasized his fight against wasteful spending. The ads will cost the campaign about $200,000 a week through Christmas, beginning in Boston on Tuesday and in New Hampshire on Wednesday. The ad replaces spots that had focused on McCain’s biography.

An announcer says, ``With John McCain, there will be no special deals for special interests,″ according to the script.

McCain then adds, ``I will refuse to sign any pork-barrel bill that crosses my desk. And if Congress overrides my veto and tries to force me to waste your money, I’ll make sure you know who they are, every single one of them.″

Switching subjects later at an American Legion post in Alton, McCain said the father of a 6-year-old Cuban boy who was rescued at sea by the Coast Guard should be allowed to emigrate to the United States so they can be ``reunited in freedom.″

The State Department on Monday rejected Cuban President Fidel Castro’s demand that the United States return Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba. The boy’s American relatives want him to stay in the United States.

``If you’re concerned about this father and son being reunited, send his father to Florida. I’m sure he’d be glad to come,″ McCain said.

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