McCain won the backing of South Carolina's largest newspaper Saturday. (Photo Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain won the endorsement of South Carolina's largest newspaper Saturday, a major boost to the Arizona senator one week before this southern state’s Republican presidential primary.
In an editorial posted on The State's Web site, McCain is praised for "integrity and independence," and his ability to reach across partisan divides.
"He is a slave to no ideology or faction. Not only will he work with anyone who wants to do the right thing anytime, he is usually the driving force at the head of coalitions to get the job done — from the Gang of 14 that broke Senate gridlock and paved the way for the confirmation of conservative judges to his principled leadership on campaign finance reform," the editorial board wrote.
The paper's editorial board also lauded McCain for his political courage, writing he "is almost unique in his determination to do what is right, whatever the cost."
Mike Huckabee was also considered, according to the editorial, and hailed as an "exciting newcomer who shows a wonderful ability to connect with voters’ concerns." But the editorial board ultimately concluded the former Arkansas governor's "utter lack of knowledge of foreign affairs is unsettling."
As for the other GOP candidates, the editorial board discounted Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for pulling much of their resources from the state, dismissed Ron Paul as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, and said Fred Thompson - who is betting his entire presidential bid on a win there - "seems to be running in this first-in-the-South primary just to say he did."
The paper backed then-Texas Gov. George Bush over McCain in 2000.
"At long last, eight years later than we should have, we are endorsing John McCain of Arizona," Brad Warthen, the State's editorial page director and a longtime supporter of McCain wrote on his blog Saturday. "This makes me a lot happier than I was this time in 2000. This time, we've done the right thing."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney