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He didn't say "Read my lips" ...

February 17, 2008 |  2:11 pm

... but during an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week," John McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, did utter those three little words so beloved of conservatives:


"No new taxes," the Arizona senator told host George Stephanopoulos.

McCain's statement came during a discussion of his support for making President Bush's tax cuts permanent. He initially opposed the tax cuts, twice voting against them because, he has said, they were not accompanied by spending limits. More recently he has contended, as he did Sunday, that allowing the cuts to expire would impose "what essentially would be a tax increase of thousands of dollars per family in America."

In fact, he continued on ABC, "I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second-highest in the world." He also supported allowing individuals to write off depreciation in a year and eliminating the alternative minimum tax, which was created to prevent the wealthiest from avoiding the long arms of the Internal Revenue Service but has increasingly ensnared middle-class taxpayers.

Last year, McCain refused to sign a "no new taxes" pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that, according to its website, "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle." He defended that action in September during a Republican candidates debate at the University of New Hampshire. "I stand on my record," he said then. "I don't have to sign pledges."

McCain's verbal "no new taxes" pledge came the day before he is expected to receive an endorsement from former President George H.W. Bush, who spoke those same three words -- preceded, for emphasis, by "Read my lips" -- during his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination in 1988. (And we all know how that turned out.)

The whole McCain video is available here.

-- Leslie Hoffecker