McCain Denies Involvement In Perry-Huckabee Call

(CBS)
From CBS News' Dante Higgins:

ANNAPOLIS, MD. -- John McCain spoke out on this weekend's GOP contests and on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's phone call to Mike Huckabee asking him to withdraw from the race. McCain said he's fine with his current standing even after losing Louisiana and Kansas over the weekend. McCain also denied any involvement in Perry's phone call to Huckabee and pledged to continue a respectful debate with Huckabee.

"That certainly was not done on behalf of our campaign," McCain said about Perry's call to Huckabee. "I am pleased to have the endorsement and support of a very popular and effective governor of Texas...but I certainly had not in any way had anything to do with that phone conversation. I heard that it's because they are good friends, having served as Governors."

McCain congratulated Huckabee for his weekend wins but reasoned that he lost there because he has always had problems with caucus states.

"One reason is because we never had the money to invest in the kind of organization and work that's necessary." He said that should change very soon because money is coming in now. "But we've won a couple. We did well in Louisiana caucus and we'll continue to work hard, particularly now because we've got more funds to organize."

McCain is narrowly ahead in Washington state, where the Republican chairman declared McCain the winner but CBS News has not yet called the race, and Huckabee says he will ask for a recount.

"It's pretty clear that we won," McCain said in his defense. "He certainly has the right to challenge if he chooses to. But honestly I don't know enough about the details except that I know that state parties declare elections when they have sufficient evidence as to who has won and who has lost. That's not unusual in any way."

Asked again if losses over the weekend showed a lack of enthusiasm or has created worries within his campaign, McCain reminded reporters that he was far ahead in the delegate count.

"We're doing fine. We have 700 and some close to 800 delegates and last time I checked Gov Huckabee had very few. So I think I'm pretty happy with the situation that we're in. In fact, quite pleased, recognizing that we have a lot of work to do." McCain is looking forward to larger upcoming primary states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He said he is confident he can continue on his path "towards getting the prerequisite number of delegates."

"As I've always said, I respect Gov. Huckabee and have always admired his principles in his campaign. And we do have differences but we'll maintain that respectful relationship that we have I am sure."
  • Andante Higgins

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