An Overview of John McCain's 2008 Campaign Platform

An overview of Republican nominee John McCain's presidential platform during the 2008 election.


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John McCain understands that hard-working families need lower taxes and is taking a pro-growth, pro-jobs approach to the economy. McCain plans to permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) — a tax that is paid almost exclusively by 25 million American families. Repealing this tax would save average American families nearly $60 billion in its first year. Under McCain’s plan, a formerly AMT-taxed middle class family with children would save an annual average of more than $2,700 — which translates to a real tax cut for working families. He also wants to work with FHA to ease the housing crisis.
Aerial View of the Euphrates River, Lake Qadisiyah, and the Haditha Region of Iraq's Al Anbar Province. Ed Darack/Getty Images
Regardless of how the US became involved in the Iraq war, McCain believes that US withdrawal cannot occur until Iraq is sufficiently self-governing and capable of safeguarding its people. To do this, he believes it is necessary for the US to aid the counter-insurgency against al Queda, help establish economic stability in the country, call for international pressure on Syria and Iran to end its violence against the Iraqi people and provide open and provide honest accounting of progress and setbacks to the American people. More »

Energy & Climate Change

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John McCain believes a market-based system will curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mobilize innovative technologies, and strengthen the US economy. He believes a climate policy should:
  • Be built on scientifically-sound, mandatory emission reduction targets and timetables
  • Utilize a market-based cap and trade system
  • Include mechanisms to minimize costs and work effectively with other markets
  • Spur the development and deployment of advanced technology
  • Encourage and assist international efforts to solve the problem
McCain's energy policies include realistic short-term and long-term targets and timetables.
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McCain's immigration plan calls for insightful and innovative methods to create lasting reforms. His plan calls for:
  • Building social and economic alliances with Mexico and Latin America
  • Reeling in government spending and implementing pro-growth immigration policies that give US
  • companies the leeway to hire competent workers and pay decent wages
  • Promoting a flexible labor market for skilled Americans and immigrants that keeps US companies in business
  • Assimilating immigrants by teaching them English and US culture
  • Tightened border security and concentrated cargo screening at US ports of entry
More »
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Gun Rights
John McCain believes that the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is a fundamental, individual Constitutional right that needs protection. McCain believes in protecting gun manufacturers from liability and opposes bans on so-called "assault weapons," ammunition and other firearms. He supports mandatory gun locks, criminal background checks, instant background checks at gun shows and stiff penalties for criminals who commit crimes with a firearm. More »

Health Care

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McCain's policy attacks the fundamental problem, which is rapidly rising costs for health care. He has specific and innovative ideas for bringing these costs under control, while also saving Medicare and Medicaid, protecting private health benefits for retirees, establishing affordable health insurance for middle-class families and making health insurance accessible to every American. He believes in putting families in charge of their health care dollars and giving them more say in their coverage and treatment would reform the system, while also raising quality of care.

National Security

Special forces jungle warfare training, Guatemala. Holly Wilmeth/Getty Images
Unrivaled in experience, there will be no learning curve for McCain. From day one, he will be ready to lead the US armed forces as commander-in-chief. McCain believes in adapting the nation's defenses to meet the ever-changing global demands. McCain understands that protecting the nation's citizens means spending defense funding more wisely and taking a fresh approach to combatting extremism and terrorism, establishing effective missle defense, increasing the size of the military, modernizing the armed services and equipping military personnel with necessary gear and supplies.


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McCain plans to eliminate President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act and the common standard it sets. He supports home-schooling and believes school vouchers create competition and forces districts and administrations to change failing policies and practices. He also plans to implement reforms that support teachers and shifts accountability for failure to poor administrative policies and practices. Under McCain's system, schools will compete for the best character-building teachers and administrators.

Not Enough

Ultimately, John McCain was defeated easily by Barack Obama in an election more about "change" than specific issues. McCain was heavily outspent, and he unexpectedly loss formerly safe states North Carolina and Indiana.