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McCain grows confident

From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Appearing with his "favorite" Democrat Joe Lieberman, McCain held a rally here this afternoon and appeared more comfortable as the frontrunner for his party's nomination. While railing against wasteful spending and citing the need for specific economic proposals, McCain started looking past Tuesday.

"I have laid out some very specific set of proposals and we will be coming forward with more proposals as the nominee of my party as we address these economic challenges," McCain said.

He also got a bit more specific than usual in his criticisms of the wasteful spending of his Democratic opponents.

"In her short time in the United States Senate, the senator from New York -- Senator Clinton -- has gotten $500 billion worth of pork barrel projects," McCain said. "My friend, that kind of thing is going to stop when I'm President of the United States of America… This spending increases interest rates. It makes you pay more for you home loan mortgage. It makes you pay more for anything that you do."

Walking the gray line between pumping up a local crowd and exuding confidence about his chances in the GOP primary, McCain made some bold predictions about the hopes of his candidacy in this typically Democratic state.

"We will win Connecticut," McCain said, referring to Tuesday's primary. "I will get the nomination of my party and I will campaign in this state. And my friends in November and October and September and August and July, I will campaign in the state of Connecticut and I will win it and we will win the state of Connecticut in the election in November with your help."

Then pointing to his friend and frequent partner on the campaign trail, he said that a victory would be because of Lieberman.

"If I do win it will be because of this great American and my beloved friend and chapter in profiles in courage in anybody's book that writes a story about the 21st century," McCain said.

Asked later if the support of a former Democratic vice presidential candidate hurt him amongst conservatives, McCain stuck up for his friend saying, "I think Joe Lieberman is one of the most respected men in America by every political part of the spectrum," and "if someone feels that's a detriment, I proudly, I proudly wear his support and friendship, and obviously that they would feel free to support another candidate." 

As sometimes happens at his rallies, McCain was interrupted in the middle of his stump speech by a war protester holding a video camera. He paused and waited for the protester to be removed while the crowd tried to drown his yelling out with chanting of their own, but later he said that he respected the protester's sentiments.

"I know America is divided over this war," McCain said. "I heard our friends there yelling and I respect their views, but let me also say to you my dear friends that America is divided over this war. America is divided. No American is divided in our support of the brave young men and women who are serving this country in military today."