Endorsing McCain, Giuliani Lauds Senator’s ‘Clear Vision’
SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Jan. 30 — Life, according to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is full of anecdotes. And for years to come, he’s sure to retell with pride the one that began about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
That’s when McCain’s friend and onetime nemesis stood shoulder to shoulder with him here at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and offered his endorsement.
The presidency requires someone with a “clear vision” about the challenges that the country faces, Giuliani told a room packed with television cameras. It requires a person with “will” and “perseverance” to get things accomplished for the country, said the former New York mayor.
“Obviously, I thought I was that person,” Giuliani joked. “The voters made a different choice.”
And then, Giuliani spoke the words that should warm McCain’s heart and help fill his campaign coffers.
“John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States,” Giuliani said, moments after officially withdrawing. “He is an American hero, and America could use heroes in the White House. He is a man of honor and integrity, and you can underline both ‘honor’ and ‘integrity.’ ”
When it was McCain’s turn to talk, he said he accepted the endorsement with honor, and he talked about Giuliani’s role in helping New York City recover after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But then McCain told reporters what he said is his favorite anecdote.
It was shortly after the attacks, when he invited Giuliani to the World Series in Phoenix between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. Soon, Giuliani’s face was shown on the big screen in the stadium.
“Every one of those fans stood and applauded and cheered and cheered and cheered, because this man is an American hero,” McCain said.
In the fight against terrorism, McCain said, “my strong right arm, my partner, my friend in this effort will be the former mayor of New York City, an American hero, Rudy Giuliani.”
McCain and Giuliani have had several private dinners in New York and Phoenix since and seem to share a genuine warmth. In an interview, McCain described them as not “close friends,” but friends.
McCain accepted Giuliani’s endorsement less than two hours before he took the stage for a final debate as the race accelerates into a 21-state sprint with the candidates courting tens of millions of voters who will cast ballots on Feb. 5.
Giuliani promised to campaign vigorously for McCain, who will travel to California, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts over the next four days.
Ever the superstitious politician, McCain told reporters earlier in the morning that he was “trying not to” think of himself as the GOP front-runner, despite winning the Florida primary yesterday.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go,” the senator told reporters who gathered around him after he boarded a charter plane in Florida headed for Burbank, Calif. He declined to offer an instant analysis of how he managed to beat former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
“I was surprised by the margin of our victory,” he said.
Rudolph Giuliani hugs former foe John McCain after announcing the endorsement.