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Inside Politics

Kerry floats names for defense chief

Candidate says McCain, Warner, Levin, Perry on 'long list'


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Stay with CNN for updates and reactions to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's trip to Iraq and on congressional focus on the costs of the war and the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
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John McCain
John Warner
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(CNN) -- Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry floated the names of four people Wednesday, including two Republican senators, as possible choices for the post of defense secretary in a Kerry administration.

In an interview with New York radio talk show host Don Imus, Kerry listed Sens. John McCain of Arizona and John Warner of Virginia as two possibilities, along with William Perry, who was defense chief from 1994 to 1997 during the Clinton administration.

He also added the name of Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan to what he said was a "long list" of "unbelievably capable" people who could take the helm at the Pentagon.

Warner is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Levin is the committee's ranking Democratic member. Perry is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a think tank based at Stanford University.

McCain, a friend of Kerry's, has been mentioned as a potential vice-presidential running mate for the Massachusetts senator. But McCain has repeatedly insisted that he has no interest in the post and supports President Bush's re-election.

Asked about Kerry's comments, a McCain spokeswoman also ruled out an appointment to the defense post.

"Sen. McCain will remain a U.S. senator, where he thinks he can be more effective for the people of Arizona and the nation," she said.

McCain is running for re-election in Arizona in November.

Kerry has called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign over his handling of the war in Iraq.

"This notion that we have to continue with a policy that's wrong and taken us down the wrong track is absurd," he told Imus.


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