Oct 27, 2014 8:12 PM

Paul Steinhauser: John McCain jokes about 2016 and slams Hillary Clinton in Nashua, NH

NH1 Political Director -

NASHUA - When it comes to 2016 and making another run for the White House, John McCain says "I'm rested, maybe, who knows."

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee was joking about running for the White House again as he spoke with NH1, but he was very serious about what he said was the need for Scott Brown to return to the Senate.

Speaking to veterans Monday afternoon at American Legion Post # 3 in downtown Nashua, McCain slammed the administration over the controversy at the Department of Veterans Affairs and praised Brown, saying "we need to address this issue. This administration has fumbled it and failed our veterans. And I need Scott Brown. I need him."

This was the second time McCain's joined Brown on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in the past couple of months. He teamed up with Brown at a foreign policy town hall in Derry in August. In his comments following McCain's speech, Brown praised him, saying "there is nobody I respect more than the gentleman who just spoke. I consider him personally a national hero."

Will McCain run again in 2016 ?

The senior senator from Arizona's not up for re-election this year, but he will be in 2016, when he'll turn 80 years old. McCain told NH1 that "I'm certainly leaning towards running again and I think that I have a lot more to contribute. But first I have to talk to a lot of my friends in Arizona before I make that decision."

As for that other election in 2016, McCain, after joking about his own candidacy, said "seriously, I think it's wide open. It's not clear if Jeb Bush would run or not, there's even speculation on Mitt (Romney) running again. I think it's very unsettled."

"Early 2016 I think this will really settle out. I think it's going to be very competitive. There's no perceived frontrunner right now, and that's good," McCain added.

But McCain said that if the GOP wins back the Senate in next week's midterm elections, the party needs to show the public that it can govern.

"If we gain the majority in the Senate, which I think we will, especially with Scott Brown winning, then we will have to present a positive agenda to the American people and show the American people that Republicans can govern. If we don't' do that, it doesn't matter who we nominate in 2016," McCain warned.

Straight talk about Hillary

McCain also directed some of his well-known ‘straight talk' towards former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Asked by the New Hampshire Journal's John DiStaso about Clinton's comment last Friday on the campaign trail in Boston that "don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs, a comment that Republicans have jumped all over, McCain was critical of the likely 2016 Democratic presidential contender.

"Hillary Clinton has made a series of mistakes. ‘We were flat broke when we left the White House.' That was interesting. Somebody that gets $225,000 for a speech is doing fairly well," said McCain.

He also criticized her record as America's top diplomat.

"Tell me one thing she accomplished as secretary of state. And I also think she has trouble getting in tune with the majority of the American people," he added.

McCain targets Shaheen

McCain also saved some of his firepower for Shaheen, saying "I don't believe she's been a serious member of the Senate Armed Services Committee," adding that "I have not seen her really active on the committee."

Asked to respond, Shaheen's campaign provided a recent statement from Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

"Senator Shaheen is an outstanding member of the Armed Services Committee, fully engaged in the committee's responsibilities and making important contributions to the America's national security," said Levin.

For McCain, who won New Hampshire's 2000 and 2008 Republican presidential primaries, the visit was a bit of a homecoming.

"I appreciate the warmth and the love that the people of New Hampshire have given me that I hope that I have reciprocated. I love my state of Arizona more than anything but I can tell you that I love this state in a way that's hard to describe to you."

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