McCain: always with a little humor

In this game show on John McCain's website, Question No. 7 asks who would be the best general election candidate for the Republicans to nominate. The answer choices are McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul. If you answer Giuliani, the "audience" groans and you are told: "The nomination of Rudy Giuliani would likely lead to the formation of a third party made up of social conservatives. He would also likely get 'swift boated' by firemen, police officers and even victims of 9/11 who are upset with his performance. . . . Giuliani changes the electoral map in a way that makes it very difficult for the GOP nominee to win."

On a conference call with bloggers today, McCain was asked if this was just kidding around or a serious assertion by him? He answered that he's "trying to inject a little humor" into the campaign, allowing that it's "a little juvenile." He said he was not predicting the third-party reaction or swiftboating of Giuliani. "I think it's kind of a clever thing for the website," he said.

Before taking questions, McCain spoke about Pakistan, warning that lots of public calls for Gen. Musharraf's ouster are not necessarily in our interests. He referred to past corruption under Benazir Bhutto and noted that "the last time we thought things ought to change in one of these countries" was Iran at the time of the Shah, and obviously that didn't work out the way we would have wanted.

Asked about Fred Thompson's plan for a million-member military, McCain noted that he has long advocated a larger military but said numbers are not enough. "We need intelligence people, civil affairs people, people versed in interrogation techniques," he said. Invoking Dwight Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex, McCain stressed that expanding the military must not be an excuse for wasteful spending. He called the pork that goes into the annual Defense Department bill an "ongoing scandal."

(Caricature by Mike Marland)