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McCain on talk of run with Kerry: 'No, no and no'

Arizona senator says Bush deserves re-election

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
John McCain
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Trying to stamp out speculation that he might consider joining Democratic Sen. John Kerry's ticket, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona insisted Sunday that he would not do so under any circumstances.

He said he would campaign and vote for President Bush in the fall, despite their policy differences.

"No, no and no. I will not leave the Republican Party. I cherish the ideals and principles of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan," he said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

"I will not be vice president of the United States under any circumstances. I feel that I can be far more effective in helping shape policy in the future of this country as a United States senator."

McCain, who ran a hard-fought and frequently contentious campaign against Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000, is a close friend of Kerry's and like him is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, having endured more than five years as a prisoner.

He raised eyebrows last month in an interview with ABC when he said that if Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, asked him to be his running mate, "Obviously, I would entertain it."

McCain went on to say that he thought such a scenario was impossible because the Democratic Party would never accept his conservative views on abortion, trade and national security.

He tried to quash the speculation raised by his comments by putting out a statement the same day saying he would not run.

Nevertheless, the chatter has persisted, fueled by media reports quoting Kerry advisers saying they think a Kerry-McCain ticket would be an unbeatable combination against Bush.

But McCain said Sunday that he believes Bush "deserves re-election."

"Have we agreed on every issue? Of course not. We didn't agree on every issue when we ran against each other in a primary," he said.

"I am not embarrassed to say that John Kerry is a friend of mine, but I want George Bush to be re-elected president of the United States."

McCain, 67, is running for re-election to his Senate seat.

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