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Former President Bush: Attacks on McCain’s record ‘absurd’

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) — Former President Bush endorsed John McCain on Monday and defended the conservative record of the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Bush’s endorsement was another sign that the GOP’s establishment is coalescing around the Arizona senator.

At this critical time in history … the United States of America cannot be allowed to falter, the 41st president said in Houston, Texas. No one is better to lead our nation in these trying times than Senator John McCain.

His character was forged in the crucible of war, Bush said, referring to McCain’s experience as a Navy pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Bush served as a Navy pilot during World War II. Like McCain, Bush was shot down in combat.

Few men walking among us have sacrificed so much for the cause of human freedom, Bush said.

I believe now is the right time for me to help John in his effort to start building the broad-based coalition it’ll take for our conservative values to carry the White House this fall, the former president said.

After Bush spoke, McCain said that his endorsement would help me enormously in the process of uniting our party and moving forward.

McCain is working to win the support the party’s conservative base, many of whom were angered by the positions the Arizona Republican took on immigration, campaign finance and other issues as well as his willingness to work with Democrats to pass legislation.

Bush said the criticism of McCain’s record by some conservatives was absurd and grossly unfair.

He’s got a record that everybody can analyze in the Senate, a sound, conservative record, and yet he’s not above reaching out to the other side, he said.

The former president, who served as President Reagan’s vice president, noted that Reagan was attacked by ultra-right activists who said his record was not conservative enough when he ran for president in 1980.

On Sunday, McCain brought memories of Bush’s infamous broken promise not to raise taxes after the 2008 candidate was asked whether he would make a similar pledge.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, McCain said he would not increase taxes under any circumstances and mentioned several alternatives, including lowering interest rates and corporate tax rates if our economy continues to deteriorate.

There’s a lot of things that I would think we should do to relieve that burden, including, obviously, as we all know, simplification of the tax code, he said.

Despite Bush’s strong ties to the party’s revered Reagan legacy, those links haven’t endeared him to the GOP’s conservative wing. The Bush endorsement won’t necessarily help McCain with values voters, who have always suspected that Bush the elder was not wholly committed to the anti-abortion cause.

Regarding his Supreme Court choices, Bush 41’s tenure gave rise to a phrase that has become part of the conservative lexicon: No more Souters, a reference to Bush Supreme Court nominee David Souter, a then-relative unknown who proved to be a high court liberal.

After Monday’s endorsement, McCain, who has 830 of the 1,191 delegates needed to win the nomination, heads to Wisconsin, where his rival Mike Huckabee, who has 217 delegates, is already campaigning.

McCain strategists see the Bush endorsement as a way to send another message to the former Arkansas governor to exit the race. The Bush nod also may bolster McCain in Texas, where a strong bloc of politically active social conservatives could embarrass him in the state’s March 4 primary.

On Thursday, former GOP rival Mitt Romney threw his support behind McCain, calling him a true American hero capable of leading our country in this dangerous hour. Watch the two former rivals shake hands

A source involved in the internal deliberations with Romney said the former Massachusetts governor concluded that it’s time for the party to unite and focus on a difficult fall election environment.

Romney will release his delegates to McCain, meaning he will encourage them to get behind McCain’s candidacy, the source said.

Romney had collected 286 delegates before he suspended his campaign two weeks ago.

Those delegates would put McCain less than 100 delegates away from securing the nomination.

McCain appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live on Thursday and defended his statement that U.S. troops could spend maybe 100 years in Iraq. The senator said he was referring to a military presence similar to what the nation has in places like Japan, Germany and South Korea.

It’s not a matter of how long we’re in Iraq; it’s if we succeed or not, McCain said, adding that Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal — that means chaos; that means genocide; that means undoing all the success we’ve achieved and al Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.
Former President Bush: Attacks on McCain’s record ‘absurd’ – found here.

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February 18, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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