Tom Kean Endorses John McCain

Nov 19, 2007 11:16am

ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Senator John McCain received the endorsement Monday of former 9/11 commission chairman Tom Kean, who praised McCain for his leadership in attempting to enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

"To the extent that we’ve been less vulnerable to attacks that we suffered on 9/11 it’s in a large part due to the leadership of John McCain," Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, said at a Boston press conference.

Kean said McCain, R-Ariz., was the candidate with the most experience and knowledge of terrorism, and that he would be the candidate most ready to take over as president on day one.

"In the history of our nation only a handful of senators exerted a greater influence over the lives of free men and free women than even some presidents of the United States," Kean said. "John McCain has been one of those senators. And he has tremendous respect around the world."

The endorsement of Kean represents a blow to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is running on his record during 9/11.

"Hey, there are lots of Republicans, I am not going to get all the votes or all the endorsements," Giuliani said when asked about McCain’s endorsement. "Tom Kean’s son who ran for the Senate a year or two ago is one of my co-chairman for New Jersey.  So I guess we are dividing up the family."

Kean originally believed he would not endorse anyone in the Republican primary, but says he changed his mind when he thought more about McCain’s qualifications.

"This is an endorsement, frankly, of conscience," Kean said, who says has not endorsed a national candidate in more than two decades. "I couldn’t sit by and not endorse this man."

Ron Claiborne and Jan Simmonds contributed to this report.

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