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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

 12:04 PM 

McCain says GOP voters won't be crossing over

Following a campaign rally in Brookfield this morning, GOP frontrunner John McCain dismissed talk that his party's voters today would cross over to prop up a Democrat he'd fare better against in the fall election.

"Generally speaking, with very few exceptions, party voters go to the polls to vote for their party leader; they're not that complicated, in general," McCain said. "There's always the theory that they will be, but I'm happy to say that these past few primaries people have just gone to select the candidate from their party."

McCain noted that he is winning a "good percentage" of independent voters, who he said most expected to vote in the most contested race.

McCain said this shows these people recognize that the Republican primary is not over yet.

Despite the fact Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are still in the race, McCain's nomination is likely and he's won key endorsements, including those of former President George H.W. Bush and Mitt Romney.

McCain said he hasn't thought about whether it would be more difficult to face Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and that he's focused on winning the nomination.

"I've see more than one campaign take a lot for granted that they shouldn't have, maybe even including my own," McCain said, whose campaign was essentially declared dead earlier last year.

Before a crowd of a few hundred at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, McCain said Wisconsin will be a key swing state in the general election and pledged to return to campaign and win the state this fall.

McCain called for party unity.

"We need to unite our party," McCain said, adding that he will be up against a "tough" candidate no matter who wins the Democratic nomination.

McCain said he respects Huckabee's right to remain in the campaign, and expressed thanks and respect for those who already dropped out of the race.

Several Ron Paul supporters were in the audience at the rally, a "Ron Paul Revolution" limo was parked out front. Recognizing them in the audience, McCain thanked the Paul supporters for always being "very polite" at his rallies and for their dedication to their candidate. "He's ran a very tough and very interesting race to say the least," McCain said of Paul.

The bulk of McCain's speech echoed others he's given in Wisconsin over the last week, with him pledging to veto any bill containing earmarks, make the Bush tax cuts permanent, improve veterans' healthcare, continue the fight against global terror and win in Iraq so American troops "can come home with honor."

Behind McCain stood about 70 college-aged supporters, some wearing Marquette University clothing. One carried a sign reading "Favre 4 VP."

Listen to McCain's speech here
-- By David Wise

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