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Former Sen. Allen, Former Gov. Ehrlich Endorse McCain

By Tim Craig and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 8, 2008

Sen. John McCain's bid for the White House picked up the support yesterday of former Virginia senator George Allen and former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Allen's endorsement could help the Arizona Republican as he steps up efforts to validate his conservative credentials, while Ehrlich called McCain the party's best candidate to win the general election. The endorsements could give McCain a boost heading into the Tuesday primaries in each state.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Allen praised McCain's military background and his efforts to control federal spending.

"Patriots, we are at war! The preeminent role of the president is commander in chief," Allen said. "John McCain has demonstrated the judgment, knowledge and determination to lead our troops in Iraq to success and victory."

Until he lost to Sen. James Webb (D) in 2006, Allen had been contemplating a bid for the White House. More recently, he had been a co-chairman of former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson's campaign for the GOP nomination. Thompson dropped out of the race last month.

Ehrlich made his endorsement last night while appearing with McCain at a GOP dinner in Arbutus, a suburb of Baltimore.

Ehrlich was mid-Atlantic presidential campaign chairman for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who dropped out. Ehrlich said he decided to endorse McCain -- whom he called a "true patriot," "budget hawk" and "pork buster" -- only after talking to Giuliani.

In a 24-minute address, McCain focused on fighting terrorism and cutting government spending.

Speaking to reporters, McCain pledged to campaign during the general election in Maryland, which is heavily Democratic. "I promise you as the nominee of the Republican Party, I will compete in the state of Maryland."

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