June 30, 2008

McCain Has Meeting With Billy Graham


MONTREAT, N.C. John McCain met Sunday with evangelist Billy Graham and his son, Franklin, at the family's mountaintop retreat.

The Republican presidential candidate, who is actively courting religious voters and trying to reassure skeptical conservatives, visited privately with the Grahams on the grounds of Little Piney Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.

"We had a very excellent conversation. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with them," McCain said after the 45-minute meeting.

McCain's visit to North Carolina was his first sit-down with Billy Graham, 89, and with Franklin Graham, although McCain and the elder Graham are acquainted. McCain's father and Billy Graham also knew each other.

The world-renowned evangelist is in poor health but apparently felt well enough to visit with McCain, who flew to North Carolina with the expectation of meeting only with Franklin Graham, who is president and CEO of the evangelistic association his father founded in 1950.

McCain said he did not know if the Grahams would vote for him. "I didn't ask for their votes," he said, calling them "great leaders."

After the meeting, Franklin Graham issued a statement praising the Arizona senator's "personal faith and his moral clarity."

"The senator and I both have sons currently serving in the military, and also have a common interest in aviation," Franklin Graham said. "I was impressed by his personal faith and his moral clarity on important social issues facing America today."

Franklin Graham said he was not endorsing anyone for president, but was urging "men and women of faith everywhere" to vote and be involved in the political process.

McCain said last week that he did not consider the meeting with Franklin Graham a political one. Earlier this month, Barack Obama, McCain's Democratic rival, met in Chicago with the younger Graham and 30 other evangelicals.


(c) 2008 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.