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With Pataki Backing, McCain Says He'll Take N.Y.

By Juliet Eilperin
NEW YORK -- Flanked by a bevy of moderate Republicans in Grand Central Station this afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the endorsement of former New York governor George Pataki, who argued that he stood out in the GOP field for his national security experience and ability to reach out to independents and Democrats.

"These are times that demand experienced, principled leadership. That leader is Senator John McCain," Pataki said. "No one can bring the American people together in these challenging times better than John McCain."

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who also stumped for McCain earlier in the day in Hamilton, N.J., testified to the fact that McCain had bested him on the political field, though not when it came to betting on the Super Bowl.

"I lost every single primary to John McCain. Every one. He whipped me. But yesterday, I won a bet against John McCain," Giuliani said, adding that McCain had picked the New England Patriots over the New York Giants in Sunday's game. "Go Giants!"

Despite this Super Bowl pick, Giuliani said, McCain was best equipped to win over voters in the tri-state area.

"We need to run in all 50 states, not just 35," he said. "Please, Republicans, nominate a candidate that can win in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He's the only one who has the chance to do that."

McCain told a group of reporters, "I will compete and win in November in New York state as the nominee of our party," adding that he would pursue conservative goals while still reaching out to non-Republicans because "they also want someone to call all Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest."

On a bus ride along the New Jersey Turnpike, McCain told reporters that while he is confident he can carry New York and New Jersey tomorrow, he is less sure about California. The campaign, which had initially planned to fly directly from Newark to Phoenix tomorrow morning, has now added a stop in San Diego for a rally tomorrow afternoon with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The campaign is spending a million dollars on cable television advertising in California, according to a senior adviser.

McCain strategist Steve Schmidt, who is based in California, said he had been looking at private GOP polls in the race and sees the state as competitive. "I think it will be a close race," he said, adding that the campaign wanted to take full advantage of the remaining hours before polls close Tuesday. "I think we will do well there."

The senator quipped he had decided to stop in San Diego "especially since so many of our constituents from Phoenix spend so much money there. And Schwarzenegger wanted to do it."

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 6:08 PM ET
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