The Arizona senator has been limited to spending $84 million for the general election campaign after accepting federal funds under a program created after the Watergate scandal. Obama initially indicated he would adhere to the same limit, but reversed course and became the first post-Watergate candidate to finance a general-election campaign with private funding.
McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, also sloughed off Obama's endorsement by one of the country's best known black Republicans and former military leaders, Colin Powell, who was President Bush's first secretary of state.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Powell expressed personal affection for McCain but chided his friend of 25 years for the type of campaign he has run against Obama, who is black.
McCain said: "I've always admired and respected Gen. Powell," before noting his endorsement by four other former secretaries of state. Asked whether Powell's endorsement undercut McCain's stance that Obama is not ready to lead, McCain said of Powell: "We have a respectful disagreement."
On other topics, McCain:
_Conceded he was trailing but said he "started turning it around the other night" in the final presidential debate. During that encounter, McCain spoke of "Joe the plumber," who questioned Obama's tax policies, and noted Obama said only that he would "consider" offshore oil drilling. McCain said Obama speaks eloquently but imprecisely so "I'm very pleased with what happened in that debate, because it helped define the issues with the American people."
_Accused Obama of leaning toward socialism with his tax policies, but denied he had the same bent despite supporting government purchases of bad home loans and a health care plan that would provide a tax credit for insurance, but also tax workers on any company-provided benefits. McCain also voted for a $700 billion Wall Street taxpayer bailout that included the nationalization of some banks.
"That is reacting to a crisis that's due to greed and excess in Washington," McCain said of the vote. "It was a package that had to be enacted because the economy was about to go into the tank."
_Distinguished between anti-Obama automated calls he is making in battleground states and similar calls made against him by George W. Bush during South Carolina's Republican presidential primary in 2000. Those calls suggested McCain was mentally unstable and had fathered a black daughter out of wedlock. The senator had adopted an orphan from Bangladesh. McCain is now employing someone who made those calls against him to highlight Obama's association with a Vietnam War radical.
"These are legitimate and truthful, and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family," McCain said.
_Defended his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate and cast her in a fresh ideological role.
"She is a direct counterpoint to the liberal feminist agenda for America," he said.
_Said he would not wallow in grief if he lost the Nov. 4. election.
"I've had a wonderful life. I have to go back and live in Arizona, and be in the U.S. Senate representing them, and with a wonderful family, and daughters and sons that I'm so proud of," McCain said. "I'm the luckiest guy you have ever interviewed and will ever interview. I'm the most fortunate man on Earth, and I thank God for it every single day."
McCain held a conference call with Jewish leaders after the program and before setting off on a pair of campaign stops in Ohio. He also was endorsed Sunday by The Columbus Dispatch.