CONWAY, S.C. – Republicans spent their way into losing control of Congress, presidential candidate John McCain says.
"The reason why we lost that election, my dear friends, was because we let spending get out of control," McCain told a breakfast crowd Saturday. "We came to power in 1994 to change government and government changed us."
McCain told the 225 people gathered at a restaurant on a bend in the Waccamaw River, not far from Myrtle Beach, that Republicans began to value power over principle, which caused spending to lurch completely out of control.
"It's got to stop," he said of the excesses, which also led to corruption among members of Congress. "We're going to have to clean up our act."
On the Iraq war, McCain said the "titanic" struggle pits supporters of the nation's values against those of radical fundamentalism.
"We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home," McCain said.
Asked why some have criticized him for not being conservative enough and why he is trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the polls, McCain said Giuliani is "an American hero" who did important work in the wake of 9/11.
"I think you should judge people by their record," McCain said. "I am conservative across the board and I will match my record with anybody in America much less anybody who is running."