Posted: 2:22 PM- Visiting Utah for the first time since the state's presidential primary, Republican candidate John McCain joked today that he still hasn't met any of the 10 percent of Utahns who voted for him.
But seated between two of Utah's favorite politicians, the Arizona senator said he was confident that his neighboring state - which in fact only gave him about 5 percent of the vote in its Feb. 5 Republican primary - would be in his corner come November.
"I'm very happy the way our party has come together," McCain said shortly after a meeting of supporters and fund-raisers at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
Mitt Romney, who had the support of 90 percent of Utah's primary voters, was even more adamant. "When it comes time to get around our nominee, we do it," Romney said. "This is our candidate and he needs to be president."
Both Romney and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. - who joined McCain in fielding questions on Iraq, western water disputes, the economy, immigration and the NBA - have been named as potential vice presidential candidates. And McCain said either man would be well qualified for the job. Huntsman joked, however, that he was the "dangling preposition at this table," saying he was fully content to be Utah's governor.
Huntsman, who maintains large approval ratings in Utah, has been a longtime supporter of McCain's, though Romney may be more key to ensuring Utahns open their hearts and their pocketbooks to the candidate. The former Massachusetts governor and 2002 Winter Games chief fought a sometimes bitter battle with McCain until finally suspending his campaign in early February.
Now, Romney says, McCain's ascension to the presidency is a necessary part of the battle against "radical, violent jihadists" bent on "the destruction of out world as we know it."
Romney said that's why he will campaign for McCain anywhere where his support will be an asset.