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N.H. Senate Leader Endorses McCain

By Juliet Eilperin
DERRY, N.H. -- New Hampshire Senate GOP leader Ted Gatsas endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain for president today, saying he was best prepared to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks.

Gatsas, who stood on stage with McCain and independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman at a packed town hall meeting at the Derry Opera House tonight, said he was "90 percent there" when it came to endorsing McCain, but he made the jump after hearing Lieberman extol his colleague's virtues on New Hampshire radio this morning.

"After he gave the experience and tough guy and the right guy [argument], he said he's the only person who can be here on day one and protect American soil," Gatsas told the crowd. "That took me over the top."

In a statement, McCain welcomed Gatsas' endorsement. "Ted has been a tremendous asset to the Republican Party here in New Hampshire and he is a crucial addition to our growing grassroots organization," he said. "His role as a leader in the New Hampshire State Senate makes him a powerful advocate for my campaign in the Granite State, and I am proud to have his support."

Just off the plane from campaigning in Iowa, McCain reported to the crowd that New Hampshire was, in fact, even colder than Iowa, and substantially chillier than Phoenix, where it is in the low 70s. But he added that he was not complaining.

"This is the fun part, my friends, this is the exciting part," he told them. "It's the home stretch."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 3, 2008; 6:36 PM ET
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