ARLINGTON, VA -- Sen. John McCain invited a cadre of the nation's top political reporters (and for some reason, me, ) to lunch today and used the occasion to reflect on his recent trip to Iraq and sketch out the next thirty days.

The news nuggets:

## "We're fine," McCain said of his campaign's finances. There's been no decision to tap into the public till just yet. The campaign recently secured a $3M loan.

## Said he wished John Edwards still referrred to the military escalation in Iraq as the "McCain surge." Gently criticized Rudy Giuliani: "The former mayor of New York City has never been to Iraq..." While in Iraq, McCain allowed that he observed a military interrogation and was told by the base commander that the techniques permitted by the Army Field Manual were more than enough to get the information out of those detained.

## Acknowledged that "immigration hurts" him in South Carolina but was confident; said his campaign had begun to gel in New Hampshire; acknowledged that in Iowa, "we have a great deal of work to do." McCain returns to Iowa and NH next week and is in SC tomorrow. Admitted that he had to "do really well" in New Hampshire in order to survive the campaign.

## Said he remained friends with Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, said he's taken a real shine to Mike Huckabee, and said he doesn't know Romney enough to be friendly. Huckabee, McCain said, was "the genuine article."

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