"I know what's right, and I'm going to do what's right, and at the end of the day, I'm going to sleep well at night, because I know what's right for America," he told Bob Schieffer.
His two most controversial stances are on Iraq and immigration. McCain believes that the United States needs to stay in Iraq to help secure the nation and that the surge in troops needs more time to be tested.
"We have got our opponents wanting to go back to a strategy that failed for four years, and abandon a strategy we have really only been pursuing for about four months, which is succeeding," McCain said. "If you set a date for withdrawal — and that's what the Democrats are going to be proposing in the middle of September — my friend, that's a date for surrender... It's going to be chaos, genocide, not only in Iraq but in the region."
Within the Republican party, McCain said he has been most damaged by his fight for an immigration reform bill. He began this campaign season as the de facto frontrunner, but is now running fourth in some polls.
"As president, I would say, 'I will secure the borders,'" he said. "But I still think we need a comprehensive approach to this immigration issue, including a temporary worker program. So, I think that was — that was harmful to me."
Current frontrunner former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he believes illegal immigration can be completely stopped. McCain says it can be brought under control by using things like a tamper-proof biometric identification documents. If an employer hires someone without one, McCain said, the employer would be prosecuted.
"Then you dry up the magnet from south of the border, because if they know even if they get across our border that they can't get a job here, then I think that has a very big effect," McCain said. "But I believe we have to have a temporary worker program, and I mean temporary. If you're an agriculture worker, come for 10 months, go back for two months."
Even though former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Giuliani are proving to be formidable foes, McCain said his campaign is in good shape.
"My theme of my campaign and the basis of it – the reason why I'm running – is because I'm the most qualified to take on the transcendent issue of the 21st century: radical Islamic extremism," he said. "I am fully prepared. My life has fully prepared me for that, and I'm prepared to lead. And I know that that sounds egotistical. But the fact is that I'll match my vision and my qualifications to lead in this transcendent evil that we are going to have to surmount over anybody else who's running on either side of the aisle."