McCain: ‘I’d like to be president’

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“Am I happy?” McCain asked in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in The New Republic. “I’d like to be president of the United States.”

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate who lost to then-Senator Barack Obama (D), also defended his selection of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as his running mate.

“I think historians will decide that facts are stubborn things,” he said. “We were four points down when I chose her and three points up afterwards. She held her own and, some people said, won a debate with the vice president. She did everything I ever wanted. She excited our base in a way I was unable to achieve.”

McCain argued that Palin’s public personae has been distorted by the “liberal media,” who he says had it out for the Tea Party favorite from the start.

“I watched the shredding and destruction to destroy a good and decent person by the liberal media, beginning with Katie Couric,” McCain said. “Not only do I not regret [picking her as my running mate], but I have probably not seen anyone in American life savaged like she was, particularly by the liberal left.”

In the interview, McCain, who is known for not being afraid to rankle conservatives or members of his own party, criticized Fox News for sending conflicting messages – particularly on immigration – to an audience that is largely made up of conservatives.

“I think that Fox News is a bit schizophrenic,” he said. “I saw a guy on Hannity, maybe Huckabee, and the guy said, ‘You know, the Chinese are coming across our border, and they are going to commit cyberattacks.’ Honest to God!”

McCain, whose work on the bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration bill helped usher the legislation through the Senate, said the owner of Fox News is on board with his immigration push, but acknowledged resistance from the network’s president.

“It is well known that Rupert Murdoch is a strong supporter of immigration reform,” McCain said. “Roger Ailes is also a realist. He believes that immigration reform is vital to the country first, but also the GOP. Yet he does not dictate. [Sean] Hannity has come out against it and kept his job. I don’t think Roger Ailes is ham-fisted.”