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Schwarzenegger backs McCain
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US Republican presidential candidate and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (R) is embraced by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after Schwarzenegger endorsed McCain for President during a campaign appearance in Los Angeles January 31, 2008. 

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, while touring a solar energy technology company in Los Angeles on Thursday, announced his endorsement for John McCain as the Republican presidential candidate.

Schwarzenegger, who used the event to tout the use of alternative energy, talked about moving into the future with environment-saving technologies, and hailed McCain's support of that effort.

"Talking about a great future, this is the very reason why I am endorsing Senator McCain to be the next president of the United States," he said, standing alongside McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Schwarzenegger praised the Arizona Senator for his environmental positions and national security credentials, calling him "a great American hero and extraordinary leader."

The former Hollywood action star is one of the Republican Party's most popular figures, and his endorsement could be a big boost for McCain headed into California's first-ever early primary on Tuesday. California has 55 electoral votes, more than any other state.

McCain was earlier endorsed by Giuliani Wednesday, a day after McCain's victory in the Florida primary made him the Republican front-runner and Giuliani's third-place finish knocked him out of the race.

Both Schwarzenegger and Giuliani are moderates whose positions on such issues as abortion and gun control are anathema to conservatives, a body of Republican voters that McCain seeks to win over.

However, the two high-profile figures' endorsements could help McCain with moderate Republicans and independents, observers said.

The Arizona senator, who ran unsuccessfully for the nomination in 2000, is a former US Navy pilot, who was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and spent five years as prisoner of war.

Born August 29, 1936, in Panama's Canal Zone to a submarine-commanding Navy admiral, McCain comes from a family with a deep military history. His grandfather was also a Navy admiral, who commanded the Pacific aircraft carrier fleet during World War II.
(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)

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