Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

‘I will never surrender in Iraq,’ McCain tells DU crowd

Sen. John McCain delivered a foreign policy speech to a crowd of about 400 in the Cable Center this morning, telling them that the U.S. not only has to be strong but must be a model for other countries in the 21st century.

Although his roughly 24-minute speech was interrupted four times within the first 10 minutes by anti-war protestors in the crowd, supporters broke out with chants of “John McCain” while the first two protestors were escorted out.

“I have town hall meetings all the time when people are allowed to come and state their views,” McCain said in response. “One thing we don’t do is interfere with others’ right of free speech.”

This may turn into a longer speech than you may have anticipated,” he joked. “And by the way, I will never surrender in Iraq.”

The crowd erupted with cheers as McCain added, “Our American troops will return with victory and with honor.”

His speech took the tone of the banner that was set as his backdrop: “A stronger nation, a safer world.”

The presumptive GOP nominee referred to John F. Kennedy’s warning against the spread of nuclear weapons and said that threats made by countries like North Korea, Iran and Syria must not be ignored or minimized.

He also said he shares Ronald Reagan’s dream “to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth.”

But, McCain warned, it is a “distant and difficult” goal.

The highest priority, McCain said, “must be to reduce the danger that nuclear weapons will ever be used.” These weapons represent the “most abhorrent and indiscriminate form of warfare known to man. We do, quite literally, possess the means to destroy all of mankind.”

McCain spoke of the U.S.’s relationship with Russia after the Cold War, saying that the countries are no longer mortal enemies and the two should enter into a new arms control agreement reflecting nuclear reductions. He added that he would consider Russia’s recent proposal to work together to globalize the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

He also said if president, he would begin a dialogue with allies and with the U.S. Senate to “identify ways we can move forward to limit testing in a verifiable manner that does not undermine the security or viability of our nuclear deterrent.”

He would also address civilian nuclear power as a critical part of the fight against global warming, explaining that it “provides a way for the United States and other responsible nations to achieve energy independence and reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.”

He acknowledged the long list of steps the U.S. needs to take: “It’s long because there is no single answer to this crisis, and there are no easy answers. It’s long because no nation can meet this direct challenge alone and none can be indifferent to its outcome.”

McCain ended his speech by letting the crowd know he wanted to get to work on that list. “No matter how dangerous the threats we face in our day, it still remains within our power to make in our time another, better world than the one we inherited. And that, my friends, is what I am running for president to do.”

This was McCain’s first visit to the University of Denver. Democratic contender Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — stumping for his wife Hillary — rallied in Magness Arena in late January. Mitt Romney, who has since withdrawn from the race and endorsed McCain, campaigned at the University in October.

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