[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/13/art.mccainson.ap.jpg caption=" McCain said Wednesday his son has returned from Iraq."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who almost always refuses to speak on the campaign trail about his son serving in the military, got a rousing reception Wednesday when he told a private gathering of House Republican congressman that his son Jimmy - whose Marine unit had been deployed to Iraq - had arrived home safely.
According to three GOP sources present at the closed meeting of the House Republican Conference, the Arizona senator said that when his son first arrived in the country, he reported seeing IEDs everywhere - but when he recently left, some seven months later, Iraq had become so safe he was handing out soccer balls.
According to the sources present, the congressmen greeted the news with standing ovations.
Programming note: Watch Larry King’s exclusive interview with GOP front-runner John McCain tonight on Larry King Live at 9 P.M. Eastern.