John McCain

Campaign Issues

U.S. Policy toward Africa

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) says the United States should promote democracy in Africa. In a May 2007 speech before the Hoover Institution, McCain called for the United States to join in a "League of Democracies" to help regions in Africa and elsewhere beset by humanitarian crises. He also said the United States should support those in Africa "who favor open economies and democratic government against populist demagogues who are dragging their nations back to the failed socialist policies of the past." In a March 2008 speech, McCain said the United States must "strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements in transparency and the rule of law."

McCain also said as he would establish the goal of eradicating malaria in Africa. "In addition to saving millions of lives in the world's poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America's image in the world," he said.

In May 2008, McCain cosigned a statement with fellow presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama condemning the Sudanese government as "chiefly responsible" for the violence in Darfur, and demanding that the Khartoum regime adhere to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Like many of the other candidates, McCain advocates a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Darfur. In a 2006 op-ed, McCain said the United States should pressure the European Union and UN Security Council to impose sanctions (WashPost) on the Sudanese government. He also said the United States should "publicly remind Khartoum that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes in Darfur and that Sudanese leaders will be held personally accountable for attacks on civilians."

U.S. Policy toward India

Sen. McCain (R-AZ), has noted India's potential to be one of the "natural allies" of the United States. He stresses the "importance of securing greater U.S. market access to [India's] economy of a billion consumers."

In a March 2008 speech, McCain said he believes India should be included in the G-8.

McCain voted in favor of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in October 2008. He also voted for the United States-India Energy Security Cooperation Act of 2006. In a May 2008 speech on nuclear security, McCain said he supports the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Accord "as a means of strengthening our relationship with the world's largest democracy, and further involving India in the fight against proliferation." He also said the United States should "engage actively" with India to "improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and weapons materials," and to construct a secure global nuclear order that eliminates the likelihood of proliferation and the possibility of nuclear conflict."

Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay

Sen. McCain (R-AZ), himself a former longtime prisoner of war, was one of just two Republican presidential candidates to say Guantanamo should be shut down. He thinks the prisoners should be moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In a March 2008 speech, McCain said the United States should "close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control."

McCain sponsored anti-torture legislation, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, and was a primary backer of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (PDF).

In June 2008, McCain criticized a Supreme Court ruling allowing Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detention in civilian courts. He called the ruling "one of the biggest mistakes that's been made in terms of our ability to defend our nation in a long, long time."

Domestic Intelligence

McCain believes the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program was lawful, a top adviser to his campaign said in June 2008. McCain will "do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution," wrote Douglas Holtz-Eakin in a letter published on the National Review's website.

McCain did not attend the June 2008 vote on legislation to lift restrictions on domestic spying, but he urged the Senate to pass the legislation. In February 2008, McCain voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007, which authorized the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, and which provided retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated in domestic spying.

Some analysts see a shift in McCain's position from last year. Asked in a December 2007 interview with the Boston Globe whether the president has the right to conduct national security-related surveillance without a warrant, "regardless of federal statutes," McCain said the president should "obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is."


If he is elected, McCain said in a September 2008 presidential debate, "I won't repeat the mistake that I regret enormously, and that is, after we were able to help the Afghan freedom fighters and drive the Russians out of Afghanistan, we basically washed our hands of the region." McCain said in a July 2008 speech that the troop surge in Iraq should serve as a model for counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. He said he would implement an integrated "civil-military campaign plan that is focused on providing security for the population."

He also pointed to a lack of "unity of command" in Afghanistan. "Too often, even as American soldiers and diplomats cooperate in the field, their superiors back home have been squabbling. In July 2008, McCain outlined his "comprehensive strategy for victory in Afghanistan," which includes the appointment of an "Afghanistan czar" based in the White House. McCain also said the United States should send an additional three combat brigades to Afghanistan. He later indicated that he might call on NATO (WashPost) to provide some of those troops.

Democracy Promotion in the Arab World

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) believes in the importance of democratic development in the Middle East. "The promotion of democracy and freedom is simply inseparable from the long-term security of the United States," he said in 2005. At a speech before the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, McCain expressed support for democracy promotion in the Middle East saying: "If the alternative to our democracy promotion efforts is a return to the days in which we simply supported pro-American dictators throughout the Middle East, I say this cost is too high. We have learned the dangers in such approach, and the lessons have been painful."

McCain is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a U.S.-funded NGO that is "committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law." McCain cosponsored the ADVANCE Democracy Act of 2005.

He also cosponsored the 2006 Iran Freedom Support Act.

Energy Policy

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has said the next president "must be willing to break with the energy policies not just of the current administration, but the administrations that preceded it, and lead a great national campaign to achieve energy security for America." McCain says he supports an "all of the above" approach to energy security, meaning he will "support the development of alcohol-based fuels, establish a permanent research and development tax credit to support energy innovation, and will encourage an even-handed system of tax credits for renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass," McCain campaign foreign policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin wrote in an August 2008 memo (Chicago Sun-Times). Under a McCain presidency, the United States will "stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much" in exchange for oil, McCain said in his September 2008 speech at the Republican National Convention.

In June 2008, McCain unveiled his "Lexington Project" energy plan. The Lexington Project, named for the site of the first battle in the Revolutionary War, calls for the expanded use of the U.S. domestic oil supply, among other proposals. He said he would lift federal restrictions on domestic oil exploration in the United States. Although he has stressed the importance of refuges like the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, he said in June 2008 that the "stakes are high for our citizens and for our economy." As a result, he said, a "broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use." .

McCain is a strong proponent of nuclear energy, and pledged in a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article to "greatly increase the use of nuclear power." According to the Lexington Project, McCain will "put his administration on track" to build 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 "with the ultimate goal of eventually constructing 100 new plants. He is in favor of storing nuclear waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain site. "I have supported storage but I also am cognizant and respectful about the environmental and other provisions that have to be met in order for Yucca Mountain to be a suitable place for storage of spent nuclear fuel,'' McCain said in June 2008. McCain also says he would help create an international nuclear waste repository, but has not indicated where it would be located.

He also supports federal subsidies (WSJ) for the nuclear industry, although he opposes similar subsidies for solar energy or ethanol. McCain, alongside Joe Lieberman (I-CT), proposed the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act. The act, which would have established a "market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances," aimed to limit emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. That act was never passed. In early 2007, McCain and Lieberman reintroduced the act (BosGlobe), saying that it would "harness the power of the free market and the engine of American innovation to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough and quickly enough to forestall catastrophic global warming." Later versions of the McCain-Lieberman legislation included billions of dollars in subsidies for nuclear energy companies.

McCain opposes proposals to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies. "All a windfall profits tax will accomplish is to increase our dependence on foreign oil, and hinder exactly the kind of domestic exploration and production we need," he said in June 2008. In spring 2008, McCain called for a suspension of the gas tax (MSNBC) between Memorial Day and Labor Day. He has called high gas prices "a regressive tax," disproportionately affecting the "lowest income Americans."

In June 2008, McCain said he planned to issue a "Clean Car Challenge" to encourage U.S. automakers to create a car that does not emit carbon. He said he would offer a $5000 tax credit to each consumer who purchases such a car, when it exists.

McCain also proposed a $300 million "prize" for the development of a car battery that "has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars," he said in June 2008.

McCain did not attend the vote on the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. That bill passed.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has described himself as "proudly pro-Israel." McCain argues that there can be no peace process "until the Palestinians recognize Israel, forswear forever the use of violence, recognize their previous agreements, and reform their internal institutions." McCain says he would be willing to use military force against Iran if it attains a nuclear weapon and poses a "real threat" to Israel.

He also believes the United States should continue to provide Israel with "whatever military equipment and technology she needs to defend herself." He has said that if elected president, he would "work to further isolate the enemies of Israel" like Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah, and he would "never pressure Israel to make concessions to states or movements committed to its destruction." (JPost)

In April 2008, McCain criticized former President Jimmy Carter for meeting with Hamas. He called Carter's meeting "a grave and dangerous mistake for an American leader."

McCain said Israel's military action in Lebanon in 2006 was justified. (Arizona Daily Star)

McCain cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.

North Korea Policy

Sen. McCain (R-AZ), has said North Korea has the "most repressive and brutal regime probably on Earth." In a September 2008 presidential debate, McCain called North Korea "a huge gulag." McCain says he would not negotiate with the regime without preconditions. He also objected to the Bush administration's removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terror. In an October 2008 interview with the Weekly Standard, McCain said the move "basically contradicted Ronald Reagan's great dictum of trust but verify."

McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been highly critical of the Agreed Framework negotiated with North Korea during the Clinton administration. In the wake of the North Korean nuclear test, he called the pact a "failure" (AP) that allowed money for food assistance to be siphoned into funds for Pyongyang's weapons program. In 2003, he cosponsored an amendment to an appropriations bill stating that the Senate considered the Agreed Framework void because of North Korea's nuclear weapons development. The amendment was approved.

During a February 2007 speech to the Seattle World Affairs Council, McCain expressed concern that North Korea would not meet the denuclearization requirements set out in that month's Six-Party Talks deal. He also described North Korea as the "foremost security challenge" in Asia.

In a November 2007 article in Foreign Affairs he wrote, "It is unclear today whether North Korea is truly committed to verifiable denuclearization and a full accounting of all its nuclear materials and facilities, two steps that are necessary before any lasting diplomatic agreement can be reached. Future talks must take into account North Korea's ballistic missile programs, its abduction of Japanese citizens, and its support for terrorism and proliferation."

Cuba Policy

If elected, Sen. McCain (R-AZ) will "not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy," he said in a May 2008 speech. He says the United States must provide "material assistance and moral support" to Cubans who oppose the Castro regime. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has typically voted in support of sanctions on Cuba. In 1992, he cosponsored the Cuban Democracy Act.

In February 2008, McCain said he welcomed Castro's resignation, and said the United States should continue to press for the release of all Cuban political prisoners and for the legalization of "all political parties, labor unions and free media." He also said the United States should urge Cuba to "schedule internationally monitored elections." In May 2008, McCain said he believes the embargo should remain in place until those "basic elements of democratic society are met." He has also said he would "increase Radio and TV Marti and other means to communicate directly with the Cuban people."

Before Castro's resignation, McCain said in a January 2007 interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that upon Castro's death, the United States should "offer a package of trade, of assistance, of economic development, of assistance in democratization—and tell them we will give them all of those things and in return we are asking them to embark on the path to democracy. Including setting a date for free and fair elections."

McCain's campaign has been endorsed (AP) by three Cuban-American Republican representatives from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Mario Diaz-Balart.

U.S. Policy toward China

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has supported a U.S. policy that will "hedge" against China's growing global influence. "That doesn't imply an effort to oppose China's emergence as an influential power, but it does mean maintaining our military presence (PDF) in East Asia, strengthening our alliance with Japan and our relations with other Asian countries, and working through groups like the APEC forum to further American interests and values," McCain said in a 2005 speech to the Committee of 100, a nonpartisan organization of Chinese Americans.

In 2000, McCain voted for the U.S.-China Trade Relations Act.

In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, he wrote China could bolster its claim that it is "peacefully rising" by being more transparent about its significant military buildup and United States must legitimately question the intent of such provocative acts. "Until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values."

In a March 2008 speech, McCain said China should work "to isolate pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe."

McCain said the 2008 Taiwanese presidential campaign was "testimony to the press freedoms, democratic process and the rule of law the Taiwanese people have worked so hard to build," and called Taiwan's election "a fine example for the region."

McCain denounced China's March 2008 crackdown on Tibetan protesters and urged China to "address the root causes of unrest in Tibet by opening a genuine dialogue" with the Dalai Lama. He also called on China to "ensure peaceful protest is not met with violence, to release monks and others detained for peacefully expressing their views and to allow full outside access to Tibet." McCain said he would not attend the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics if he was president unless China changes what he says are objectionable policies. "It does no service to the Chinese government, and certainly no service to the people of China, for the United States and other democracies to pretend that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us. It does, will and must concern us," said McCain in April 2008.

Defense Policy

Sen. McCain (R-AZ), a former navy pilot, has been one of the most outspoken voices in Congress on defense issues. McCain favors an increase in the size of the U.S. military, especially the Army and Marine Corps. McCain also says the United States needs "a new mix of military forces, including civil affairs, special operations, and highly mobile forces capable of fighting and prevailing in the conflicts America faces."

McCain has also backed national missile defense program development. He has generally supported "modernizing" the armed forces and U.S. weapons technology.

In December 2007, McCain praised provisions in a conference report accompanying the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act for pay raises for military personnel and for an increase in "Army and Marine end-strength." Still, he said, he would not sign the conference report due to its inclusion of $5.3 billion in earmarks. Primarily, McCain criticized the provision in the report of $2.28 billion to purchase eight C-17 Globemaster aircraft, which, McCain said, "the Defense Department states we neither need nor can afford."

McCain voted in favor of the 1999 Kosovo Resolution authorizing air and missile strikes on Serbia and Montenegro.

McCain expressed support for the provision in the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act that would "require regular budgeting for the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," as opposed to the supplemental funding bills that have characterized the war on terror. He voted in favor of the Military Construction Fiscal Year 2005 Authorization Bill, which granted hundreds of billions of dollars to the Department of Defense for military and national security operations. At the time, he said that the funding was necessary to increase force levels of the military, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but on the whole.

McCain opposed a Senate amendment passed in May 2008 to expand education benefits for Iraq veterans. He expressed concern that the bill could reduce military retention rates. "Encouraging people not to choose to become noncommissioned officers would hurt the military and our country very badly," McCain said, explaining his opposition to the bill. With Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), McCain cosponsored an alternative bill, which he says will include a "sliding scale that offers generous benefits to all veterans, but increases those benefits according to the veteran's length of service."


Sen. McCain (R-AZ) continues to support the war effort, and is one of the most outspoken proponents of Bush's surge strategy, even arguing that the escalation does not go far enough. He supported the president's efforts to increase the size of the U.S. standing military by 92,000 soldiers and Marines. On improving Iraqi security, McCain cautions that regional talks with Iran and Syria may not prove effective (New York Sun). "Our interests in Iraq diverge significantly from those of Damascus and Tehran, and this is unlikely to change under the current regimes," he said.

In January 2008, McCain drew fire from his Democratic opponents when he said it "would be fine" with him (CNN) if the United States stays in Iraq for another 100 years. Later, he clarified, saying it is "not a matter of how long we're in Iraq, it's if we succeed or not." In a May 2008 speech, McCain said he hopes to have "won" the war in Iraq by what would be the end of his first presidential term in 2013. By then, McCain said, he envisions Iraq as a "functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension." By 2013, he said, he hopes to have defeated al Qaeda in Iraq, and expects the government of Iraq to be "capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders." He said he envisions the U.S. military role in Iraq by that time to be "much smaller."

Early in the war, McCain was highly critical of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the war. In 2004, McCain said he had "no confidence" (MSNBC) in Rumsfeld, and advocated for a significant increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

McCain has said he understands the "frustration that many feel after nearly four years of mismanaged war." Still, he says, the United States must not "sacrifice the remarkable gains our servicemen and women have made by engaging in a game of political brinksmanship."

In February 2008, McCain commended the Iraqi government for passing the 2008 budget, as well as for legislation providing limited amnesty to prisoners in Iraqi jails. He also praised the government for passing legislation "outlining the scope of provincial powers," including setting a date for provincial elections. "A great deal of compromise was required by the various parties in Iraq's parliament and the political leadership demonstrated that it can address and resolve difficult issues," he said in a press release.

In March 2008, McCain traveled on a congressional delegation to Iraq, where he met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, General David Petraeus, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and General Stanley McChrystal. McCain praised Maliki on the passage of the de-Baathification law and partial amnesty for detainees. McCain visited Mosul, Haditha, Baghdad, Iskandariyah, and the Camp Bucca detention center in southern Iraq.

In 2002, McCain voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq.


Sen. McCain (R-AZ) views trade and national security as "interconnected" (AP). He voted in favor of NAFTA in 1994 and continues to firmly support the trade deal. McCain criticized his Democratic opponents for their attacks on NAFTA, and said threatening to renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA (ABC) could "affect Canadian public opinion adversely," and could thereby cause Canada to withdraw its military support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. In a May 2008 speech, McCain promised that if he is elected, the United States will "honor its international agreements, including NAFTA, and we will expect the same of others."

McCain sees trade as especially important as a means to open "closed societies" in the Middle East. "Its past time for nations of the Middle East to join the global economy, and for rulers to lead increasingly restive populations in the direction of democracy and free markets," he said in 2003. McCain supported Bush's plan to build a free trade area in the Middle East by 2013.

McCain has been a consistent supporter of free trade legislation, achieving a top rating by the pro-trade Cato Institute. He voted in favor of free trade acts with Oman, Australia, Chile, and Singapore. He voted to approve CAFTA. McCain also supports the pending South Korea FTA, which he says will help maintain strategic partnership between that country and the United States.

McCain supports the pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia. "The stability of Colombia is more critical than ever as others in the region seek to turn Latin America away from democracy and away from our country," McCain said in May 2008.

In February 2008, McCain called free trade "the future of America's economy" (CBC) and warned against protectionism. In a July 2008 speech, McCain said protectionism "not only puts a hidden tax on almost everything you buy, but it undermines American competitiveness and costs jobs." Still, McCain added, "I understand free trade is not a positive for everyone." He proposed reforms to the U.S. unemployment insurance and worker retraining programs to account for job loss resulting from outsourcing. McCain said the United States should use community colleges "to help train workers for specific opportunities in their communities." His plan would also help older workers "who have lost a job that won't come back." The government will "help make up the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one until they've completed retraining and found secure new employment at a decent wage," he said.

Homeland Security

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has generally supported the Bush administration's homeland security initiatives. McCain voted in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001 and for its reauthorization in 2006. McCain voted in favor of the Homeland Security Department FY 2006 Appropriations Act, which allotted $34.55 billion for DHS. McCain has been a leading Republican voice in Washington seeking to ban the CIA from engaging in "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners." McCain, who was tortured himself during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, pushed an amendment in 2005 banning such treatment. That bill passed after extensive debate in Washington. Still, in February 2008, McCain voted against (NYT) an amendment that would have dictated an interrogation standard for the CIA based on the Army Field Manual. McCain also voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

McCain criticized the Bush administration's 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina. In April 2008, McCain said that unlike President Bush, he would have "landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally" (Reuters) immediately after the storm.


Sen. McCain (R-AZ) says Iran is the "chief state sponsor of terrorism," and has repeatedly said that an Iran with nuclear weapons poses an "unacceptable risk" to regional and global stability. His refrain: "There is only one thing worse than military action, and that is a nuclear armed Iran." In a February 2008 speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference, McCain said he would send a message to Iran that the United States "will not permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State of Israel as its fondest wish and pledges undying enmity to the United States to possess the weapons to advance their malevolent ambitions."

McCain drew criticism for joking about bombing Iran (CNN) at an April 2007 campaign stop. He has generally said that use of military force in Iran should be "the last option (PDF) but cannot be taken off the table."

Although McCain did not vote on the September 2007 Kyl-Lieberman amendment naming the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, he has expressed support for the bill, and has defended it against critics who say it could be used as a justification for attacking Iran.

McCain says the U.S. president should not negotiate directly with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Such a meeting "would increase the prestige of an implacable foe of the United States, and reinforce his confidence that Iran's dedication to acquiring nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and destroying the State of Israel had succeeded in winning concessions from the most powerful nation on earth," McCain said in May 2008. In a September 2008 presidential debate, McCain indicated that he would support "secretary-level and lower level meetings" between the United States and Iran.

McCain has also called for a "worldwide divestment campaign" against Iran. In a June 2008 speech before the AIPAC Policy Conference, McCain said such a campaign could cause Iran's "radical elite" to become "even more unpopular than they are already."

Climate Change

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the issue of climate change. With Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), McCain introduced the Climate Stewardship Act in 2003, which failed. Still, climate change expert Bill McKibben said this act was crucial (OnEarth Magazine) in that McCain "managed to force the first real Senate vote on actually doing something about the largest environmental peril our species has yet faced." In 2007 he reintroduced the act, with bipartisan cosponsorship. The bill, McCain and Lieberman wrote in a February 2007 editorial, "would harness the power of the free market and the engine of American innovation to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough and quickly enough to forestall catastrophic global warming." (BosGlobe)

In a March 2008 speech, McCain called for a "successor to the Kyoto Treaty" and a cap-and-trade system " that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner." Small businesses would be exempt from his cap-and-trade proposal. McCain also advocates auctioning emissions permits to help fund development of "research and commercialization challenges, ranging from carbon capture and sequestration, to nuclear power, to battery development."

McCain's climate policy includes several target dates for emission reductions. By 2012, McCain says U.S. emissions should return to 2005 levels. By 2050, he says, the U.S. emissions should be 60 percent below 1990 levels.


Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has been a moderate voice who supports both increased border security and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. McCain was the only GOP candidate (FOX) to support the failed immigration reform bill in 2007.

McCain says he will implement a "secure, accurate, and reliable electronic employment verification system to ensure that individuals are screened for work eligibility in a real-time fashion." He also says he will create a temporary worker program to "ensure high skilled workers trained and educated in the United States have the opportunity to stay and work in the United States upon graduation."

McCain cosponsored the Senate Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which called for establishing a guest-worker program as well as setting up a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. At a May 2007 debate with Republican presidential candidates, McCain defended his position in this way: "(W)e've got to enforce our border. That's our first and foremost priority. But we also have to have a comprehensive solution and it has to be bipartisan. And I believe we're close to reaching that, and that's what the American people expect us to do."

McCain voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006. With John Edwards, among others, McCain co-sponsored the Save Summer Act of 2004, which would have increased the legal limit on H-2B visas for seasonal nonagricultural laborers by forty thousand. That bill never reached a vote.

United Nations

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has generally supported U.S. engagement with the United Nations but has noted the oil-for-food scandal and faulty human rights institutions demonstrate a "crying need for reform."

In a 1999 lecture at Kansas State University, McCain said, "The United Nations, although many of its founding principles were borrowed from our own, can never be an adequate substitute for American leadership. It has its uses, but to confer on that diverse organization, the leading responsibility for international stability, freedom and justice, will quickly render it incapable of any task whatsoever." On the 2004 Congressional National Political Awareness Test, McCain said the United States should continue its financial support for the United Nations, and should contribute troops to UN peacekeeping missions.

McCain has called for the creation of a "League of Democracies," an organization for all the world's democracies that could act "where the UN fails to act, to relieve human suffering in places like Darfur," he said in a May 2008 speech. McCain says the League of Democracies "would not supplant" the United N ations, but rather would "complement them." In a September 2008 presidential debate, McCain said the League of Democracies could also "impose significant, meaningful, painful sanctions on the Iranians."

U.S. Policy toward Russia

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has called for a new approach to what he called a "revanchist" Russia. McCain said in a September 2008 presidential debate that Russia has "become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government." In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, McCain advocated Russian exclusion from the G-8, and said the West should send a message to Russia that NATO "is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom." He also said the United States should promote democracy in Russia.

In an October 2007 Republican debate, McCain expressed support for President Bush's plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. "I don't care what [Putin's] objections are to it," he said.

McCain called Russia's March 2008 election a sign that Russia has taken "yet another step away from democracy." He also said it was "a tragedy of history" that the Russian people were "again deprived of the opportunity to choose their leaders in a free and open contest."

In August 2008, McCain condemned Russia's military operations in Georgia, and said Russia should "immediately and unconditionally" withdraw from the region. He also emphasized the need for a "truly independent and neutral peacekeeping force in South Ossetia."

U.S. Policy toward Pakistan

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has advocated continued U.S. cooperation with the Pakistani government to "dismantle the cells and camps that the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintain in his country." In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, he warned that the "Talibanization of Pakistani society is advancing," and said the United States should make "a long-term commitment to the country." This would include bolstering Pakistan's security capabilities to enhance "Pakistan's ability to act against insurgent safe havens." He also said the United States should "bring children into schools and out of extremist madrassas," though he did not specify how the United States should approach that task. McCain said in a September 2008 presidential debate he is "not prepared at this time to cut off aid to Pakistan," and that he would not say "out loud" that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan.

In a May 2008 speech, McCain said the United States should "engage actively" with India and Pakistan to improve nuclear security and to "construct a secure global nuclear order that eliminates the likelihood of proliferation and the possibility of nuclear conflict."

After opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's assassination, McCain said as president he would immediately meet with the National Security Council to find "maintain order, or restore order, whichever is the case in Pakistan" (CBS).

McCain criticized the Pakistani government's peace agreement with Islamic militants in the Waziristan province in December 2006. "The attacks from that area have increased, and we think that unless there is some dramatic change, that we will continue to see those increases," McCain said (AP).

In 2001, McCain cosponsored the Pakistan Emergency Economic Development and Trade Support Act. The bill, which never passed, was aimed at easing textile trade with Pakistan as a means of bolstering its economy and government.

Nuclear Nonproliferation

The United States shares "an obligation with the world's other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons," McCain said in a March 2008 speech. He also said the United States should work to "reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world, starting with our own." The United States does "not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal," he said.

In a May 2008 speech, McCain laid out his policy plans to reduce the nuclear threat. As president, McCain would have the Joint Chiefs of Staff "engage in a comprehensive review of all aspects of our nuclear strategy and policy," he said. He also said the United States should maintain a "safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies."

McCain would "seriously consider" Russia's proposal to work to "globalize" the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. If elected, McCain says, he would continue the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing and would cancel further work on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.

McCain also said in his May 2008 speech that he would support the development of a new kind of nuclear weapon only if it was "absolutely essential for the viability of our deterrent, that results in making possible further decreases in the size of our nuclear arsenal, and furthers our global nuclear security goals."

McCain would convene a "summit of the world's leading powers" to discuss nuclear nonproliferation and to revisit the notion that "non-nuclear-weapons states have a right to nuclear technology," he wrote in a November/December 2007 Foreign Affairs essay. Another agenda item at that summit would be the "automatic suspension of nuclear assistance to states that the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency] cannot guarantee are in full compliance with safeguard agreements." McCain also says the IAEA's annual budget should be "substantially increased so that the agency can meet its monitoring and safeguarding tasks."

In 2005, McCain cosponsored the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act.

In 1999, McCain voted against the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, but, he said in his May 2008 speech, he would be willing to give it "another look."

Financial Policy

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in October 2008. In September 2008, McCain briefly suspended his campaign to return to Washington, D.C. to work on the economic rescue plan. McCain laid out a set of principles he hoped would guide the bill, including "responsible oversight, effective transparency, added protections for the taxpayers, and a cap on excessive salaries for executives." He also said the legislation should not include earmarks. Following the bill's failure, he urged Congress "immediately to address this crisis."

Though McCain once supported legislation (WashPost) to deregulate banking and insurance industries, in September 2008 he came to support regulation of the markets to rectify financial problems he attributes to "failed regulation, reckless management, and a casino culture on Wall Street." McCain has called for "strong and effective regulation" and an investigation into possible unethical behavior by Wall Street executives. McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin says McCain had to alter his position (BosGlobe) on regulation in light of the "unprecedented once-in-a-100 years [sic] crisis for the financial markets." In an interview with NPR, Holtz-Eakin said the most pressing economic question was not whether to regulate more or less. "It's making sure the playing field is level and that everyone gets a fair chance," he said. Holtz-Eakin expressed concern about the burden of debt placed on taxpayers. "We can't do this, where private individuals, shareholders and management are making a pile of money at the taxpayers' expense," he said.

If elected, McCain pledged in a September 2008 speech, he will ensure that the FDIC and Securities Investor Protection Corporation "will have all the support they need to fully back the savings of the American people." He also criticized what he called an "alphabet soup" of financial regulatory agencies. "[W]e don't need a dozen federal agencies doing the job badly-we need the best federal agencies to do the job right," he said. McCain promised to mandate "constant access to the books and accounts of our banks and other financial institutions," and implement reforms to prevent "wild speculation." He has also called for a commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission "to find out what went wrong and to fix what's going to happen in the future so this never ever happens again."

McCain said in a September 2008 presidential debate that he would impose a federal spending freeze "on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs." In October 2008, he released a "Pension and Family Security Plan," which includes an estimated $52.5 billion (Reuters) in proposals to help retirees and investors rebound from recent financial turmoil. Under his plan, senior citizens would pay a maximum of ten percent tax on funds withdrawn from IRAs and 401 (k) retirement plans in 2009 and 2010. He would also change IRS rules capping the amount Americans can deduct from their taxes at $3000 in stock losses each year. He would increase that deduction to $15,000 a year in 2008 and 2009.

McCain voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which tightened corporate accounting rules following the abuses at Enron and other large companies. Aides to McCain told Politico in February 2008 that McCain continues to support that legislation, but has taken a "wait-and-see attitude" about future changes to the law.

In 1999, McCain voted in favor of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, intended to increase competitiveness among financial institutions by dropping barriers between banking, investment and insurance companies.