McCain Stumps in Beantown
By Juliet Eilperin
BOSTON -- Staking his claim in former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's back yard, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sounded more like a general-election candidate than someone fighting for his party's nomination as he addressed supporters in the city's historic Faneuil Hall this morning.
Pointing to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), who was standing onstage amidst a group of prominent Republicans, McCain said his friend epitomizes "what the American people want us to do. I pledge to you, as president I will preserve my proud conservative credentials, but I will reach across the aisle and work with Democrats for the good of the country."
But with polls tightening, McCain also cautioned that he was "not predicting" that he would automatically wrap up the GOP nomination Tuesday. "I've seen more than one election go against what the polls show," he told reporters after the rally. If for some reason the Feb. 5 primaries do not crown him as the presumptive nominee, "we will be prepared to continue in the campaign."
When asked why he was bothering to campaign in Romney's home state, McCain initially responded by saying, "We thought it would be good to come here and thank the people of Massachusetts for their support for many years." But then he couldn't resist making a couple of digs. "He's certainly welcome to come to Arizona if he'd like, the weather's very nice there," McCain said, adding that Romney hadn't managed to win over former Massachusetts GOP governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, both of whom have endorsed the senator. "I think they know him pretty well," he noted.
In another bid to win over Bay State voters, McCain commiserated with them over the New England Patriots' narrow loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, saying, when it comes to the Patriots' coach Bill Belichick, "I still think he may be the greatest coach in the United States."
Rather than cloistering himself in his hotel room to watch the Super Bowl Sunday night, McCain watched the game in the downtown Hyatt Regency's bar with Lieberman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) along with several reporters. He explained that he was inclined to support the Patriots because Belichick had grown up in Annapolis while his father coached at the Naval Academy.
While reporters generally left McCain alone during the Super Bowl viewing (aside for the photographers, who snapped dozens of photos), it allowed Graham -- who was sipping white wine at the time -- to resolve a gastronomic question that has most likely troubled him for years.
"What kind of kosher food do you eat during football?" he asked Lieberman.
"Beer," replied Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew. "Beer, and pretzels."
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