ROSEVILLE, Mich. -- Cast adrift by John McCain's failed candidacy, many of his supporters say they're unenthusiastic about the remaining presidential candidates and in no hurry to side with somebody new.

In interviews from Missouri to New Jersey, McCain backers said they admired his Vietnam War record and his promise to scrub the political system.Many knew little else about the Arizona senator, but that hardly mattered. He has become, in a sense, a political mirage dancing in the eyes of voters thirsting for alternatives after the primaries narrowed their major-party choices to Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

"I can't listen to Gore; he's too boring. I can't vote for Bush; he's too shifty-eyed," said Karen Morely, a hospital administrator eating lunch at a diner in the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores. "McCain has got to be better, but I'll probably end up settling for Gore."

"I liked McCain. He came across as honest and down to earth," said Clay Johnson of Joliet, Ill. "I'm looking for that same trait in the ones who are left."

After he left the race with seven primary victories, McCain's supporters became a major target of both Gore and Bush. Mostly independent-minded voters, McCain backers could be pivotal in what is expected to be a tight race.

Recently, for example:

A month after quitting, the Arizona senator scored about one-fifth of the GOP primary vote in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two key general-election states.

McCain was favored more than Gore and Bush by voters who describe themselves as uncommitted in a hypothetical matchup of congressional candidates.

McCain still gets major news coverage, as when he campaigned over the weekend for Rudolph Giuliani in the New York Senate race and said in a speech at Columbia University on Monday that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a star in the Senate but is just too liberal. Candidates nationwide are clamoring for his help this summer.

McCain voters interviewed by the Associated Press say they plan to take their time deciding on a candidate. And many urged him to withhold his endorsement of the fellow Republican Bush, the Texas governor.