SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. – Just hours before Thursday night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney surrogate Sen. John McCain sought to play down expectations for Romney, saying it’s also important to consider rival Newt Gingrich’s record.
“I’m not sure that debates should be the only criteria; I think we should look at people’s records.... I have gotten to know former Speaker Newt Gingrich a long time ago,” McCain said. “I was just looking up an incident that took place in 1998, when he was speaker of the House and they passed a huge earmark pork-barrel bill.”
The 2008 GOP presidential nominee added: “I’m confident that Mitt will do fine tonight, don’t get me wrong. But there are more things to judge of who you want to select besides how they perform in a debate. And, frankly, [the debates] have deteriorated into name-calling, and that’s not healthy at all in my view.”
The Arizona Republican also stressed the importance of Florida in the GOP race.
“The one who wins the Florida primary will have the wind at their back,” he said. “I don’t guarantee that that person will have the nomination, but I’ll tell you it puts them a long way down the road to it.”