[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/29/art.mccainhand0329.gi.jpg caption="Sen. McCain said Sunday that he'd like to see Gov. Palin compete - perhaps against a handful of other Republican governors - for the White House in 2012."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said recently that votes he garnered last year were “mostly” votes for Sarah Palin. But he still is not ready to unequivocally back his former running mate for a 2012 White House bid should she choose to pursue one.
“I’d like to see her compete,” McCain said Sunday when asked by NBC’s David Gregory whether he would like to see the Alaska governor become president.
“I think we’ve got some very good candidates,” McCain said noting Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty – all Republicans. “There’s a lot of good, fresh talent out there.”
McCain hedged a direct question on whether he would support Palin.
“I’d have to see who the candidates are and what the situation is at the time,” he said. “But have no doubt of my respect, admiration and love for Sarah and her family.”
The Arizona senator also offered his thoughts on how his party might find its way out of the political wilderness and recover from losses in the last two election cycles.
We have to become “the party of ideas, party of inclusiveness,” McCain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “Outreach to other ethnic aspects of the American electorate; in my part of the country especially, Hispanic voters. We have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office. We have to welcome new ideas. … [A] lot of people complain about divisions within the Republican Party. That's good right now. Let's let a thousand flowers bloom. Let's have different clashes of ideas, sharing the same principles and goals.”