WASHINGTON (CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, released a statement following his former running mate Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor:
"I have the greatest respect and affection for Sarah, Todd, and their family. I was deeply honored to have her as my running mate and believe she will continue to play an important leadership role in the Republican party and our nation."
McCain raised eyebrows during a spring appearance on the Tonight Show when he listed five current and former GOP governors as possible party leaders - but didn't include Palin.
The Arizona senator has said in other interviews it is too early to say whether he will support her should she run for president in 2012.
But he's also praised Palin since Election Day, saying late last year of the Alaska governor, "It's one of the great pleasures I've had to get to know her and her family, and I think she has a very bright future in a leadership position in the Republican Party."