McCain to endorse Bush even without agreement on campaign finance

Associated Press, 04/30/00

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain said Sunday he will endorse George W. Bush even if they don't agree on campaign finance reform, as he expects, when they meet next week.

Overhauling federal campaign finance laws was the signature issue of McCain's now suspended campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush opposes some proposed reforms.

But McCain said that discord would not preclude an endorsement of Bush, the all-but-declared GOP presidential nominee, since the two agree on other areas in need of change, including Social Security, the military, education and health care.

Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" whether he can "enthusiastically endorse" the Texas governor absent an agreement on campaign finance reform, McCain, R-Ariz., said he could.

"If I didn't, I would be litmus testing him, and I don't think that's appropriate for me to do," McCain said. "But I believe he has begun to and is continuing to pursue a reform agenda.

The May 9 meeting in Pittsburgh between the two former rivals was nearly scrapped last week in a dispute over the agenda. McCain also was miffed that Bush planned to ask him whether he would consider running as vice president. McCain repeatedly has said he doesn't want the job.

Appearing on three Sunday talk shows, McCain said he has asked to be left off the list of possible vice presidential candidates being drawn up by former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, who is spearheading Bush's search for a running mate.

McCain also appeared on CNN's "Late Edition," which originated from a library at the vice president's official residence because of a live interview with Al Gore.

Gore asked to speak with McCain after the senator's taping and they discussed campaign finance reform and foreign affairs as they walked the grounds of the Naval Observatory, said McCain spokesman Todd Harris.