PHOENIX — Unbowed by his defeat in the U.S. presidential election, Republican John McCain promised on Tuesday to seek a fifth Senate term and praised President-elect Barack Obama's choices for his economic team.
In his first news conference since conceding defeat to Democrat Obama on election night three weeks ago, McCain said believed he could work with that team and reiterated his pledge to help the president-elect any way he can.
McCain, who has represented Arizona in Congress since he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, said he would seek re-election when his current six-year term expires in 2010.
"I think you really have to take an attitude as I said on election night ... that what a great honor it has been for me to have been able to serve this country for so long," McCain told a news conference.
"So the decision I'm basically making is to be able to continue to serve the state of Arizona and my country and obviously that would mean in a couple of years asking for them to send me back" to the Senate, he said.
McCain, 72, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has gained a reputation in Congress for working across party lines -- a reputation he touted regularly during the presidential campaign.
The veteran Republican accepted defeat in an emotional concession speech on November 4, during which he pledged to work with Obama after he takes office on January 20 during the worst economic crisis in decades. The two men later met privately in Chicago to discuss the transition.
"President-elect Obama and I had a very good meeting and discussed a number of issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq to the need to address the challenges facing our economy," McCain said.
"I look forward to working with (him) as we face these enormous challenges that we have," he added, putting aside their bruising five-month battle during which they clashed over the Iraq war, taxes, trade and energy policy.
McCain said he planned to visit Iraq where he would meet with military chiefs and political leaders, as well as visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan as he resumed his Senate career in coming weeks.
He applauded Obama's appointments to government, including the likelihood Democratic Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano would be named secretary of homeland security and the economic team being announced this week.
"I think frankly that Senator Obama has nominated some people to his economic team that we can work with, that are well respected, and ... I approve of many of them," McCain said.
"And so I think, my message is to all Americans, as I said on election night, respect this landmark election, respect the fact America faces great challenges and Americans expect us to work together," he said.
McCain first ran for the White House in the 2000 Republican primaries against George W. Bush. But he said on Tuesday he was not planning another run for the highest office.
"I think right now my focus is on running for the United States Senate," he said. "I do not envision a scenario that would entail (running for president). My attention is refocused on running for re-election for the Senate."
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