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House Leaders Endorse McCain

Whatever Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) told the House GOP Conference at their meeting this morning, it must have been good, because House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) came out after the gathering and endorsed the Arizonan for president, as did House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.).

Boehner had been holding off on an endorsement, nominally because he will be the official chairman of the Republican Convention this summer. With Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) backing him last week, McCain now has the support of all the top GOP leaders in both chambers.

McCain said he was "gratified by the very warm reception" he got from lawmakers at the meeting, and that they'd had a "spirited and good discussion" of the issues. Asked about the high Democratic turnout in last night's primaries compared to the GOP's, he said, "Part of our discussion was clearly that we have to re-energize our base."

Introducing McCain in the private conference meeting, Boehner praised McCain -- who got a standing ovation -- for his commitment to fighting terror, to cutting earmarks, to backing an anti-abortion agenda and to helping campaign for GOP House members in recent elections, according to a source who was present.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said there was "probably as good a mood as I've seen" at a Conference meeting during McCain's appearance. He said the topics of discussion ranged from health care to earmarks to immigration, a subject on which many members have differed with the pro-comprehensive reform McCain.

"Senator McCain really addressed that well," Cole said. "He said, 'I've been on the campaign trail and I got the message.'"

As for the overall level of support for the presumptive GOP nominee, Cole said, "There's no question our Conference has moved toward Senator McCain rather than away from him."

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  February 13, 2008; 10:19 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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