Posted: February 18, 2008 1:57 PM
On March to Nomination, McCain Nabs Backing of Bush 41
Adding to the air of inevitability that Sen. John McCain has built around his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, former president George H.W. Bush announced Monday his endorsement of the Arizona senator.
“His character was forged in the crucible of war,” the former president said in a joint news conference with McCain in Houston, praising the senator’s experience as a Navy pilot and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
“His commitment to American is beyond any doubt,” Mr. Bush, who served as a Navy pilot in World War Two, said.
“Few men walking among us have sacrificed so much for the cause of human freedom,” Mr. Bush, the 41st president, said, according to CNN.
The former president’s endorsement comes as evidence continues to build that the Republican Party establishment is mobilizing behind McCain, despite criticisms from members of the conservative wing of the party who have reservations about the senator’s sometimes moderate record.
“Leading host Rush Limbaugh warned this month that McCain spelled danger for the party on ideological grounds, and callers to his show deplored his ‘liberal’ views, saying he lacks the bedrock convictions of Republican hero [former President Ronald] Reagan,” the Associated Press reported.
The former president, who was criticized by many within the GOP for compromising too often with the Democratic Congress, urged both cultural and economic conservatives to join him in his support.
“I think they [the conservative criticisms] are grossly unfair. He’s got a … sound conservative record but he’s not above reaching out to the other side,” he said, according to the AP. Mr. Bush added that even Reagan “faced attacks from the right wing of the party.”
The senior Bush’s endorsement comes a week after son Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, also announced his support of the Republican front-runner.
“Like no other candidate in the field, John McCain has made tremendous sacrifices for this nation,” Bush said in his endorsement, according to the Boston Globe. “He is beholden to no interest other than that of the public good.”
Although Jeb Bush’s endorsement came after Florida’s Jan. 29 primary, McCain’s defeat of former rival Mitt Romney in the state helped propel him into an impressive lead in the Feb. 5 contests.
President Bush has not yet made a public endorsement of McCain, with whom he battled hard for the Republican nomination on 2000.