James Baker Backs McCain
By Michael D. Shear
HOUSTON -- Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III endorsed Sen. John McCain for president today, calling him a "great American leader" and a "thoughtful and dedicated Republican" who he compared to Ronald Reagan.
"John is what I think I am, a principled pragmatist," Baker said at a news conference after McCain spoke to students and professors at Baker's Rice University public policy institute. "He prefers to get things done rather than to insist on ideological purity."
In comparing McCain to Reagan, Baker said that the former president was a staunch conservative -- "Nobody ever accused the Gipper of being squishy," he said -- but willing to compromise when necessary.
Baker said McCain is like that.
"Like the Gipper, John McCain knows that sometimes it's better to take 80 percent of what you want rather than go over the cliff flying your flag," Baker said. He said McCain embodies the "roll-up your sleeves, bottom-line approach" that Americans want.
McCain accepted the endorsement as he continued to hammer Barack Obama for his comments about al-Qaeda in this week's Democratic debate. He said Obama's desire to withdraw troops from Iraq will lead to "chaos."
"We will continue this debate and discussion," McCain vowed.
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