From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
WARREN, Ohio -- McCain brought his energy message to a General Motors plant Friday, touting green technology and new energy sources while rejecting changes to free trade agreements or a bailout for the auto industry.
McCain toured GM's Lordstown Complex and learned how new models are getting more gas mileage than previous versions, and learned about a new Chevy Volt that will run predominantly on electricity, planned for 2010.
At a town hall meeting after the tour, McCain said the country needed to be more active in finding alternatives to gas-based vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars.
"We can lead again in the automotive industry and that can provide thousands of jobs," McCain said.
McCain said he was opposed to limitations on free trade agreements, but said enforcement of violations could increase.
"I don't believe that every trade agreement is totally fair, and we do have mechanisms in these agreements where you can bring suit where unfair practices exist," he said. But, he added that trade restrictions would have a ripple effect.
"When we practice protectionism and we erect barriers to the products from other countries, they do the same to us and then it leads to economic consequences," he said. "I think that was the case in the 1930s. I think that our protectionism and isolationism led from a recession to a deep depression."
Speaking to reporters, he also rejected calls for a bailout of the automotive industry, saying he preferred tax credits for research and development.
"I would assist in every way," he said. "Bailouts I don't think works."
McCain also said he believed the 45 day period would be sufficient to determine whether North Korea had done enough to warrant removal from the state sponsors of terrorism list.
"I'm not sure," he said. "I've been skeptical, obviously, about the North Koreans, because of past misbehavior and misleading in the six party talks."
McCain laughed when one reporter asked him whether he had a cold. He said he had the sniffles from traveling, but seemed agitated by the question. "You can't make it up," he said.