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McCain urged to join Kerry ticket
Biden says a joint ticket would help heal ‘vicious rift’ dividing U.S.
Updated: 8:48 p.m. ET May 16, 2004

WASHINGTON - Sen. Joseph Biden, a senior Democrat, on Sunday urged Republican Sen. John McCain to run for vice president with the Democratic hopeful, Sen. John Kerry, in order to heal the “vicious rift” dividing America.

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McCain, of Arizona, “categorically” ruled out standing with Kerry, but Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had no second choice.

“I’m sticking with McCain,” Biden said.

“I think John McCain would be a great candidate for vice president,” Biden, from Delaware, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where the two senators appeared together to take questions on Iraq and other subjects.

  FULL TRANSCRIPT

Sens. John McCain and Joe Biden on 'Meet the Press'

“Do I think it’s going to happen?  No,” he said. “But I think it is a reflection of the desire of this country and the desire of people in both parties to want to see this God-awful, vicious rift that exists in the nation healed, and John and John could go a long way to heal in that rift.”

McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and in line to take over the Senate Armed Services panel in two years, endorsed Biden’s call for bridging the political gap between Democrats and Republicans.

“There’s too much partisanship in America, and there’s too much partisanship in the Senate,” he said. “And we’re not doing our job as our constituents expect us to do.”

“I will always take anyone’s phone calls,” McCain said of any call he might get from Kerry, a fellow decorated Vietnam War veteran. “But I will not, I categorically will not do it.”

Kerry said Wednesday that McCain, a frequent critic of President Bush, would be his first choice to replace Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense now wrestling with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.

“I have any number of people that I would make secretary of Defense, beginning with our good friend John McCain,” Kerry said last week.

But on "Meet the Press" Sunday, McCain also indicated he was not interested in becoming secretary of defense in the event of a Kerry victory in November.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

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"First Read" is a daily memo prepared by NBC News' political unit for NBC News, analyzing the morning's political news.

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