[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/21/art.mccainvoterveep.ap.jpg caption="Voters in New Mexico grilled McCain about his VP choice Wednesday. "]
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (CNN) - John McCain may have expected immigration to be the hot topic in this New Mexico community, less than 50 miles from the border.
But curiosity over the vice presidential search is as high here as in the media. At a town hall Wednesday, one of the very first questioners asked McCain, " I heard a rumor that you're going to pick a pro-life VP, is that true?"
The presumptive GOP nominee gave his usual answer about the campaign still going through the process of picking the vice presidential nominee while emphasizing his prolife credentials.
"I respect the views of others but I also happen to believe that the noblest words ever written, in history, were those that said, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he said. Then he added to applause from the audience," I think that life applies to those that are not born as well as those that are born."
Being a man that can’t pass up a joke, McCain gave his favorite response about the grave responsibilities the vice president faces.
"The Vice President of the US really only has two duties when you think about it," he said. "One, in case there is a tie vote in the Senate, he or she comes to the floor of the Senate and casts the tie breaking vote. That’s the constitutional duty. The other duty of the vice president is to inquire daily of the health of the president. So, that will obviously make my pick very important."
That answer didn’t seem to placate certain Republicans in the room. Later in the town hall a man told McCain that he had alienated a great deal of conservatives and asked him if he was going to pick a VP that would rally the conservative base.
"Well sir, may I say at least according to the polling data that we have we are doing very well with our base," he said. "We have a lot more work to do to energize our base. We also have to energize our base that cares a lot about our lack of fiscal responsibility who are very angry. We're also gonna have to energize our base that cares about this nations security, when we look at the many challenges we face are probably very significant. I will nominate a person to be VP, my running mate, who shares my principles, my values and my priorities and that's the best that I can tell you."
This was not an unappreciative McCain crowd, however. The senator’s evaluation of his performance at Saturday’s forum with Pastor Rick Warren drew a warm response from the audience.
"Saturday night I had the opportunity at least got to respond to the same questions that Senator Obama had and I think that the American people have made a judgment on that," said McCain to loud applause.