The man known for the "straight-talk express" is hoping to get on track in Texas. Senator John McCain touched down at Easterwood Airport Thursday evening, and he brought a familiar face back to Aggieland.
McCain (R-Arizona) is scheduled to hold a private campaign fundraiser with former local Republican party chair Phil Adams Friday morning. At around 6:45 p.m. Thursday night, he spoke from the old Easterwood Airport.
His comments to the media were brief, but McCain arrived in Aggieland all-smiles and all-joking about his flying buddy.
"I'm with my old friend, Senator Phil Gramm, who people know as one of the worst professors here in the history of the institution," McCain said.
"I don't know him as well as his momma, and I don't know him as well as his wife, but I know him better than anybody else, and I think that he is the right man to deal with the problems we face today," Gramm said just off the plane.
McCain's previous visits to Texas have focused on immigration, including a speech at the Bush Library last year where he defended his plan that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the US in gaining citizenship.
"We should say to them, come out of the shadows, pay a fine, pay your taxes, learn our language, stay employed and then and only then go to the back of the line and wait your turn to earn that most precious privilege in the world, American citizenship," McCain said at the time.
Though Texas still sits in the latter portions of the primary calendar, support in a state largely loyal to its governor-turned president is one the Arizona senator is eying.
"What I intend to tell the people of Texas is that I'm a western senator," he said Thursday. "I understand these issues -- land, water, cattle. I am very familiar with the western issues.
"I think that the people of the state of Texas are very patriotic," he continued. " They're very concerned about national security. I am fully prepared to lead this national security. I am fully prepared to lead this nation. I have the experience and the background and the knowledge."
Earlier, the senator had denounced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) for comments he made in a blog interview. Reid is quoted by Politico.com as saying outgoing Joint Chief's chair Peter Pace and fellow general David Petraeus have been incompetent in their handling of the Iraq war.
McCain also addressed an additional $150 million in defense spending proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) before his arrival in the Brazos Valley. The Arizona senator described his counterpart's proposals as "pork barrel" and said they would lard up a Senate bill and drain funds to shore up armed forces overseas.
As for McCain's presidential bid, the latest CBS News-New York Times poll shows Rudolph Giuliani still in front among Republican primary voters polled, with McCain in second. However, both Giuliani and McCain's numbers have dropped since April.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stands third and has seen a bump in the polls since April. The category of "someone else or none" has also significantly risen, likely due to the emergence of Fred Thompson as a candidate.