[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/16/art.mccain.wed.ap.jpg
caption="Sen. John McCain said Barack Obama is an 'impressive fellow in many ways.' "]
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Wednesday praised rival Sen. Barack Obama as he spoke at the annual NAACP convention and looked to close a wide divide on race in the polls.
Polls show African-American voters heavily favor Obama - with about 90 percent picking him over McCain.
Republican candidates historically do not win much of the black vote. President Bush received just 11 percent of the black vote when he ran against John Kerry in 2004.
McCain opened his speech by calling attention to Obama's success.
"Don't tell him I said this, but he is an impressive fellow in many ways. He has inspired a great many Americans, some of whom had wrongly believed that a political campaign could hold no purpose or meaning for them," he said in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"His success should make Americans, all Americans, proud. Of course, I would prefer his success not continue quite as long as he hopes."
McCain's comments were well-received, met by applause and laughs from the crowd.
"Whatever the outcome in November, Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing - for himself and for his country - and I thank him for it."
McCain told the crowd that he and Obama have "fundamental differences" when it comes to the economy, and "honest differences" about the growth of government, but stayed away from criticizing his rival before the largely pro-Obama audience.
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