Lott Says McCain Will Back Bush, Wants Kasich on Ticket

Article excerpt

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says that he believes Sen. John McCain will back Texas Gov. George W. Bush after a "period of introspection," and that Ohio Rep. John R. Kasich is his "personal favorite" to be Mr. Bush's running mate.

"John does not want Al Gore to be president of the United States. . . . John will probably become one of George W. Bush's most aggressive campaigners," Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican, said yesterday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, announced Thursday he is "suspending" his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination after losing to Mr. Bush in all but four of the Republican Super Tuesday contests.

However, Mr. McCain did not endorse the probable nominee.

The race between Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain was unusually bitter, and Mr. Lott told CNN the "two candidates need to sit down and sort of mend themselves . . . and say, `How can we work together?'

"That needs to be done, and I really believe it will be done. I know George W. Bush, and I know John McCain, and I know that they do have some hard goals and principles they believe in. I just believe that these two men can come together," the Senate Republican leader said.

Mr. Lott said he has reason for optimism. He cited Mr. McCain's "magnanimous" behavior in 1996 after his pick for president - Republican Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas - lost out. "When Phil lost, he [Mr. McCain] was on the next plane with Bob Dole and worked his heart out for Bob Dole."

Asked if he would put Mr. McCain on the ticket with Mr. Bush, Mr. Lott said: "I don't know. I would look at all kinds of factors," including a person's "age, region and experience."

Show co-host Rowland Evans argued there is "only one John McCain" and said Mr. …