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McCain holds off backing Palin for 2012

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Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, declined to say whether he would support running mate Sarah Palin if she decides to pursue the presidency in 2012.

"I have the greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them," McCain said on ABC's "This Week" program, when asked whether she could count on his support for a potential run. "But I can't say something like that. We've got some great other young governors."

In his Nov. 4 concession speech, McCain, 72, thanked Palin, 44, calling her an impressive new voice in Republican politics. During the campaign, McCain touted Palin, the governor of Alaska, as the best choice to succeed him if the need arose.

While Palin ignited the social conservative base of the party, critics say that she drove away moderates and independents. Palin has indicated she is leaving her options open for her political future.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Palin topped the list of candidates Republicans would like to see run in 2012, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Dec. 5.

On the international front, McCain said that he has briefed President-elect Barack Obama by telephone since returning from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iraq, adding that the major topic was Afghanistan.

"We need another surge-like strategy," McCain said. "It's very different, so let's not say it's going to be exactly like Iraq, but I think the fact is that it's going to get worse before it gets better. And the American people need to know that."