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McCain Looking To November In Maryland

John McCain arrived in Annapolis this morning, one day before Maryland's presidential primary. But the Arizona senator seemed most interested in talking about the general election in November.

"We will compete in the state of Maryland when and if I am the nominee of the Republican party," McCain said at a news conference this morning at the Annapolis Marriott.

On its face, that might not seem such a bold claim. But Republican presidential candidates have tended to focus their efforts elsewhere in recent cycles, given the 2-to-1 margin in voter registration that Democrats enjoy in Maryland.

The last time a Republican carried the state was 20 years ago, when the elder George Bush squeaked by Michael Dukakis.

McCain was joined at the news conference by Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who in 2002 became the first Republican in a generation elected as governor in Maryland. He, of course, was defeated in his 2006 bid for re-election by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

Ehrlich, who recently endorsed McCain, said he was heartened to hear his pledge to compete in Maryland in November.

"Republicans in Maryland are somewhat accustomed to being given the cold shoulder," Ehrlich said.

The national press traveling with McCain seemed much more interested in why, if he is now the presumptive GOP nominee, voters in some states are continuing to give the nod to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"Because they like him," McCain replied.

McCain acknowledged his campaign has had difficulty in caucus state but said he is pleased with his large lead in delegates.

"We have a lot of work to do to unite the party," McCain said. " It's a tough process."

In welcoming McCain, Ehrlich noted that "we both spent four not easy years in Annapolis." Ehrlich was referring to McCain's tenure at the Naval Academy and his own sometimes rocky tenure as governor.

By John Wagner  |  February 11, 2008; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Potomac Primary , John Wagner  
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