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Schwarzenegger To Endorse McCain: Reports

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 07:21 PM

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is poised to give his endorsement to Republican presidential front-runner John McCain, US media reported on Wednesday.

CNN television network cited two Republican sources as saying that discussions with Schwarzenegger were ongoing about securing the popular former Hollywood action hero's endorsement.

Later Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website that Schwarzenegger was set to give his endorsement, possibly on Thursday, citing sources close to both men.

Schwarzenegger played down the reports in an interview with CNN, appearing to rule out the possibility of an endorsement any time before the "Super Tuesday" California primary on February 5.

"I've always said that I would stay out of the whole thing of endorsing anybody until our, you know, primaries are over, so I think that's exactly what I'm going to do," Schwarzenegger told CNN.

An endorsement from Schwarzenegger, who was re-elected California's leader in a landslide 2006 victory and who remains popular, would be a major coup for McCain heading into the delegate-rich state's primary contest.

CNN reported earlier that conversations with Schwarzenegger were ongoing with a view to a possible announcement on Thursday.

"You can safely describe the conversations as progressing and productive," an unidentified Republican source told the broadcaster.

The second source described the endorsement as "more than expected."

The Times meanwhile reported that former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani's withdrawal from the Republican race earlier Wednesday had cleared the way for Schwarzenegger to endorse McCain.

The paper quoted a senior Schwarzenegger administration official as saying that the state leader had been reluctant to give an endorsement while McCain and Giuliani, both described as friends, remained in the race.

"He's good friends with both and thought they were both strong candidates," said the official. "With Giuliani dropping out, that cleared the way for the governor's decision."

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