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McCain: Meeting with conservatives

The Los Angeles Times reports, "McCain, who has struggled to win the trust of evangelical voters, met privately Thursday in Ohio with several influential social conservatives who have been critical of him -- and impressed them, while telling them only some of what they wanted to hear. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told the small assembly that he was open to learning more about their opposition to embryonic stem cell research despite his past disagreements with them on the issue."

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"And, according to participants, he indicated that he would take seriously their requests that he choose an anti-abortion running mate and would talk more openly about his opposition to gay marriage -- a pledge he carried out later in the day by endorsing a ballot measure in California to ban gay marriage. 'It was obvious there were a lot of changed hearts in the room,' said Phil Burress, who led Ohio's anti-gay-marriage ballot measure in 2004. 'We realized that he's with us on the majority of the issues we care about.'"

More: "McCain is scheduled to fly Sunday to Asheville, N.C., to meet privately with the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. The younger Graham met this month with McCain's rival, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama, who has launched his own effort to court skeptical evangelical leaders. McCain told the activists Thursday that he also hoped to meet with James C. Dobson, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, who has said he would not vote for McCain. 'The senator spoke fondly of him, but believes there's probably room for some bridge-building,' said Mike Gonidakis, head of Ohio Right to Life."

Some prominent state Democrats are getting involved with McCain's effort in New Hampshire. "Two well-known New Hampshire Democrats have endorsed the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee. Jim McConaha and Valery Mitchell, who have pledged their support to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), will serve as co-chairs of 'New Hampshire Democrats for McCain.'"