John McCain dismissed the notion Thursday that he would drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination because he's lagging in fundraising and trailing in polls.

"That's ridiculous," the Arizona senator told reporters in the Capitol. "Why in the world would I want to do that?"

"It would be nuts," McCain said, adding that the first primary contests are a full six months away and arguing that voters won't start paying close attention until the fall. "I don't know why I would even remotely consider such a thing in the month of June, or July."

He acknowledged his difficulty raising money; he placed third among the top GOP presidential contenders after the first three months of the year with $12.5 million and may come in under that total when the second financial quarter ends Saturday.

McCain was widely considered the GOP front-runner as 2006 ended but his standing in both national and state polls has dropped since the start of the year. He has become intimately linked to the unpopular Iraq war, and, in recent weeks, he's drawn criticism from conservatives for his support of President Bush's immigration reform bill.

Despite the woes, McCain said: "Overall, I think we're doing fine."

"We have a strong political base, we have good supporters throughout, and the polls jump up and down," he said.