McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, said the current field of candidates faces too many debates. "The people are being shorted from the town-hall meetings, the meet and greets, going to people's homes, the fundamentals of political campaigns that are important to the people of those [early] states," he said on Fox News.
He continued: "It's evolved into making mistakes, not about your vision for America but who will make a mistake, who will stumble."
Some of the most noteworthy "stumbles" in past GOP debates have come from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who attracted plenty of criticism for various verbal gaffes and went on to publicize his own lack of a "silver tongue" or great "debate skills" in campaign ads.
McCain did not discuss any candidates by name.
Asked about the upcoming Dec. 27 debate that will be moderated by celebrity businessman Donald Trump, McCain said he did not know if he would have participated in a similar debate as a presidential hopeful. Several candidates have already declined to participate due to Trump's involvement, while Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have said they will attend.
"I wonder if that's the best use of candidates' time," McCain said, while maintaining it's the candidates' right to decide for themselves. "I think they should be resting up over Christmas and the next few days and then be ready to go right after the first of January."
The first 2012 caucus vote is in Iowa on Jan. 3.