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Brownback and Babs

From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann
DES MOINES, IA -- For McCain's sake, Sam Brownback wishes he was Babs.

"I wish that he had glitzier people up here to represent him," the former candidate told an audience of Iowa county officials as he stumped for McCain here this morning. "I'm not Barbra Streisand. I'm not Oprah."

"I wish I were," he added.

The often straight-laced conservative senator cocked his head and reconsidered the remark as the crowd chuckled. "Okay," he conceded with a smile, "But I wish I could sing like that."

Brownback, who dropped out of the presidential race in October, is now stumping full force for Senate colleague McCain here in Iowa. The McCain campaign hopes to harvest support from former Brownback supporters, many of them Christian pro-life conservatives.

And no one can say that the man from Kansas doesn't have a sense of humor about it. "Many candidates enter and few leave Iowa," he told members of the Iowa State Association of Counties. "I should know. I'm one of them."

Brownback told NBC/NJ after his remarks that there's a "certain wistfulness" to campaigning on a former rival's behalf, but he hopes that his endorsement of McCain will give him "some cache with another segment of the electorate." He conceded that many of his former supporters will likely be won over by Baptist charmer Gov. Mike Huckabee -- "yeah, we'll lose some," he said --  but added that Huckabee suffers from weakness on foreign and economic policy experience. 

All he wants, he said, is to makes sure that McCain isn't overlooked as Iowans consider their choices for January. "I just hope people give him a second look."

Brownback says that he came out of his failed bid for the presidency "a better man." But for now, he seems to be enjoying going to bat for his longtime Senate colleague.

And being a US senator ain't half bad either. "It's a great gig," he told the crowd today. "You should try it sometime."