ST. PAUL (AP) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain said again Monday that no one -- not even Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura -- is going to entice him to run for president as an independent.
''I will not leave the Republican Party,'' McCain said during a news conference at the Mall of America. ''The Republican Party is my home.''
Ventura, who has said he likely won't endorse Al Gore or George W. Bush, has praised McCain, encouraging him to run for president as an independent.
Not likely, McCain said.
''I have no prospects of that,'' he said.
McCain and Ventura had talked several times on the phone, but had never met in person. The two had their first face-to-face conversation in Ventura's office.
''I told him I felt quite strongly he would have a chance to win'' as a third party candidate, Ventura said after the meeting.
''He had a very successful campaign,'' Ventura said. ''He was only defeated in the Republican Party. As I told the senator, if he continues on, he might not be defeated in the general election.''
Ventura pointed out that he likely would have been defeated had he run for governor as a Democrat or Republican.
McCain praised the governor for using new tools like the Internet to entice people to go to the polls.
''Gov. Ventura has injected new spirit into politics -- not only here in Minnesota, but nationally,'' he said.
The two also discussed their Navy days, wrestling, campaign finance reform and getting the young and disenfranchised out to vote, McCain said.
''I have every intention of working with the governor on reform issues,'' he said.
McCain said he emulated a few of Ventura's nontraditional campaign tactics such as using the Internet to communicate with voters and talking straight about issues, but he earlier brushed off questions about whether he had modeled his presidential campaign after Ventura's gubernatorial victory.
''While I was winning, I think perhaps the governor took more credit for my campaign than when I lost,'' he said.
Ventura had questioned during his weekly radio show on Friday why McCain would only ''suspend'' his campaign if he really was done for the year.
McCain said he decided to suspend rather than end his campaign so that his supporters -- supporters of campaign finance reform -- would still be able to serve as delegates at the national GOP convention.
He quickly added, ''I do not have any intention of causing problems at the convention.''
In the meantime, McCain said he would work to further his message of campaign finance reform by supporting candidates like John Kline, a retired Marine colonel. Kline, a Republican, is running in the 6th District against incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Luther, a Democrat.
McCain planned to attend a fund-raiser for Kline during his brief visit.
The senator also visited the Mall of America to sign copies of his best-selling memoir, ''Faith of My Fathers,'' which chronicles his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and his family's military service.
Asked whether he had signed a book for Ventura, McCain said it would have taken too long to write what he would have wanted to say.
Then, just before McCain left the Capitol, he and Ventura turned to each other and hugged.
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