McCain in New Jersey

Larry Eichel reports...

11:58 a.m. 

McCain promises, if elected, to expand the size of the military to lessen the pressure on the National Guard for overseas deployments. In response to a question, he talks about securing the borders first before the government deals with the illegal immigrants who are already here. The immigration issue has been a tough one for McCain, who is more prone than some other Republicans to grant permanent status to those who are already in the country. 

11:46 a.m. 

He gets a standing ovation from the crowd of about 1,000 when he talks about the need for "honor and victory" in Iraq. "I'll always put my country first," he says, closing his opening remarks, and gets another standing o. 

11:40 a.m. 

He reiterates his support for nuclear power as "a vital element" in achieving U.S. energy independence and in reducing greenhouse gases. "We can become independent of foreign oil in a shorter time than anyone's predicting today," he says.

11:32 a.m. 

McCain has proposed a series of ten town hall meetings with this Democratic counterpart, Barack Obama. Today, McCain says he's accepted invitations to have joint town halls at the Reagan Library in California and at the LBJ Library in Texas -- and wants to have one next week in Minnesota. He says he respects Obama but has stark differences with him.

The Republican candidate also denounces yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision giving legal rights to enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo, calling it "one of the worst decisions that I have ever seen" and says it will harm the nation's ability to protect itself. He notes that Obama supported the decision. 

11:20 a.m.

Actually, Lieberman introduces former Gov. Tom Kean, who introduces the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Also with McCain are Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Navy Sec. John Lehman as well as Rep. Jim Saxton and senatorial candidate Dick Zimmer.

The Straight Talk Express has arrived at Burlington County College in Pemberton, NJ, and McCain is being introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman.