McCain Stumping In South Carolina

Sunday, February 18th 2007, 3:56 pm
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. John McCain was to return to South Carolina on Sunday, aiming to build support among Christian conservatives who can sway the state's first-in-the-South GOP presidential primary.

The Arizona senator was scheduled to campaign at a hot dog social and then at an evening rally promoting an abstinence program for teenagers in Spartanburg.

McCain is regarded as having the best name recognition and largest network of supporters in South Carolina. The backing comes in part from his staunch support for the Iraq war, something on which he focused a day earlier in Iowa.

McCain's campaign announced early Sunday that he had been endorsed by former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who were at the Spartanburg event.

Still, he's trying to build support among conservatives after a recent rebuke from Christian leader James Dobson, who said he wouldn't back McCain's presidential bid. Conservatives question McCain's opposition to a federal amendment to ban gay marriage. He opposes same-sex marriage, but says it should be regulated by the states.

On Saturday, McCain, who has long supported sending more troops to Iraq, skipped a vote that would have cut off debate on a Democrat-backed resolution opposing President Bush's Iraq troop surge. He's called that nonbinding resolution and a similar one in the House ``insulting to the public and the soldiers.''

McCain instead headed to Iowa to campaign.

At a stop there, McCain said there aren't any good options if the buildup of U.S. troops doesn't stabilize Iraq.

``I don't know what the other options are because if we fail here I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain the support of the American people,'' he said. ``And when the American people don't support a war ... then we aren't able to maintain a foreign endeavor.''