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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 23, 1999)
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. -C • 1 ; -"V ■ ' - ■ .i . • _
endorse Sen. McCain
■ Republican presidential
campaign is a quest for
/reform and freedom.’
By Brian Carlson
OMAHA - Republican Sen.
Chuck Hagel on Sunday endorsed his
friend and fellow Vietnam War veter
an, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, for
the Republican presidential nomina
And in a split with Gov. Mike
Johanns, who is supporting Texas
Gov. George W. Bush for the nomina
tion, Lt. Gov. Dave Maurstad also
announced his endorsement of
In a press conference at Elliott
Aviation, Hagel said he was support
ing his Senate colleague because of
their close friendship and McCain’s
support for Hagel in the past.
In 1996, McCain traveled to
Nebraska to campaign for Hagel,
who won a surprise election to the
Senate that fall. Last fall, McCain
split with GOP leadership to support
Hagel in his unsuccessful bid for a
party leadership position.
“(Hagel) has emerged, not only in
my eyes but in the eyes of national
observers, as a leader in the United
States Senate, especially on issues of
foreign policy and national security,”
McCain said. “I appreciate his sup
port and will rely on his advice and
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counsel, but most importantly on his
A fighter pilot during the Vietnam
War, McCain was shot down and
spent more than five years as a pris
oner of war in North Vietnam. Hagel,
who was wounded during his service
in Vietnam, recently returned for the
opening of a U.S. consulate in Ho Chi
Hagel became the second
Nebraska senator to endorse a dark
horse candidate for president. Last
month, Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey
endorsed former Sen. Bill Bradley of
New Jersey, who is challenging Vice
President A1 Gore for the Democratic
Although Bush holds a substan
tial lead over his GOP presidential
rivals, both in fund-raising and opin
ion polls, McCain said he is gaining
ground and will be in a position to
McCain said his campaign’s
polling shows him in second place in
New Hampshire, a crucial early pri
mary state. Although he had just 16
percent support compared to Bush’s
40 percent in that poll, he said he
would narrow that gap as the primary
McCain said recent events have
also raised hopes. Sen. Fred
Thompson of Tennessee endorsed
McCain, and Dan Quayle’s South
Carolina campaign staff defected to
McCain’s campaign following the
former vice president’s poor showing
in this month’s GOP presidential
straw poll in Iowa.
McCain skipped the straw poll,
calling it a “sham” and a waste of
money. The two candidates who spent
the most money on the poll, Bush and
Steve Forbes, finished first and sec
McCain said he had a “fiduciary
responsibility” to his contributors to
not participate in the straw poll, in
which Iowans paid $25 to vote, and
candidates paid for buses, food and
voting fees to attract voters. By not
participating in the poll, he did not
damage his prospects, McCain said.
“It was the wisest non-investment
of time and money I’ve ever made in
my career,” he said.
McCain’s boycott of the straw,
poll and his support for a phasing-out
of ethanol subsidies have fueled spec
ulation he would downplay the
nation’s first caucus in agriculture
intensive Iowa and focus on other
In an interview, McCain said he
would not downplay Iowa but had not
mapped a strategy for the primaries.
McCain summarized his cam
paign as a quest for “reform and free
“I want to reform our institutions
so that the American people can
attain more freedom,” he said.
A longtime champion of cam
paign finance reform, McCain said
he would focus on that issue in his
campaign, as well as tax and educa
tion reform and the need for
increased defense spending.
McCain, a member of the Senate
Armed Services Committee, was a
vocal critic of the Clinton administra
tion’s policies during the air war over
Kosovo. He argued that the United
States should prepare to deploy
ground troops in the Serbian
province, a view that gained increas
ing support in the weeks before
Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic withdrew from Kosovo.
McCain distanced himself from
the controversy surrounding possible
past cocaine use by Bush. In the past
week, Bush has effectively denied
using cocaine in the past 25 years but
has refused to answer questions about
possible drug use before then.
“I’d like to see the governor’s pri
vacy maintained,” McCain said. “But *
at the same time, I’m fully aware that
it’s the media and the American peo
ple who will decide which questions
Maurstad said his support for
McCain was not a sign of a rift
between him and Johanns. McCain’s
character and integrity are beyond
question, he said, and his support for
increased defense spending and tax
reform are in tune with Maurstad’s
“It wasn’t a case of weighing the
judgment of the governor versus the
judgment of the senator,”-he said. “I
expect John McCain to inspire great
ness in the people of this country.
“He won’t be tugged one way or
the other based on polls or special
_ Hagel hosted a fund-raising din
ner for McCain on Saturday night in
Omaha. About 250 people attended
the event, which raised $50,000.
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