[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/29/art.grahams.ap.jpg
caption="From left, Billy Graham, John McCain and Franklin Graham meet Sunday in North Carolina."]
(CNN) – John McCain spent 45 minutes meeting with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin at Graham’s North Carolina home Sunday morning.
The meeting took place at Graham’s home in Montreat, North Carolina, known as Little Piney Cove, about 25 miles outside Asheville. The house is a mountaintop retreat near Black Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The campaign says Rev. Graham, though quite ill, sat up in the chair during the meeting and participated in the talks with McCain and Franklin.
Advance notification of the meeting did not mention the 89-year-old Rev. Graham would be taking part.
Singer Ricky Skaggs, who was already scheduled to have lunch with the Grahams, came early and met McCain.
Franklin Graham issued a written statement a short time after the meeting. He said, “My father and I were pleased to have an opportunity to meet and visit with Sen. John McCain today. Sen. McCain’s office had requested a meeting in recent months and we appreciate the effort he made to travel to my father’s home. The senator and I both have sons currently serving in the military, and also have a common interest in aviation. I was impressed by his personal faith and his moral clarity on important social issues facing America today."
The younger Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse international relief, said, “"We had an opportunity to pray for the senator and his family, and for God's will to be done in this upcoming election."
"While as a Christian minister I am not endorsing a candidate for president, I do endorse the responsibility of men and women of faith everywhere to vote and to be involved in the political process. I encourage people to vote for the candidate at every level who best represents their values and convictions, and then to pray for those in authority over us as required in Scripture.”
McCain, speaking with reporters after the meeting as he boarded his plane, called the get-together “a very excellent conversation.” Asked if he expected the Grahams’ votes, McCain responded, “Oh I don’t know. I didn’t ask for their votes.”
The Arizona Senator said he asked for the meeting because “they have known my family, they have known of me for many years. They’re great leaders of this nation, I appreciate the opportunity to, to visit with them and I am very grateful for the time they spent with me.”
The meeting came as the McCain campaign last week reached out to conservatives in Ohio. McCain Friday said the meeting was not part of an effort to reach out to conservatives. He said, "No, he is a man whose family is respected, incredibly respected, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to meet with him. I think the Graham family really transcends politics in America. Billy Graham was an adviser to every president, so...there certainly is no political aspect to the meeting that I will have.”
Rev. Graham spoke of meeting McCain’s father, Admiral John McCain, when he was commander of the Pacific theater during the Vietnam War. Their meeting happened while Senator McCain was being held as a prisoner of war. Franklin Graham said in the statement, “Admiral McCain invited my father to come see him in Honolulu and they got on their knees and prayed for John during his captivity; and did so again on a return trip. He expressed his gratitude for the senator’s long and brave service to our nation."