From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
today met with evangelical leader Billy Graham and his son Franklin, discussing his experience during the Vietnam War and praying for "God's will to be done in the upcoming election."
"I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Billy Graham and his son Franklin," McCain said after the meeting in Asheville, NC. "We had a very excellent conversation, I appreciated the opportunity to visit with him. Rev. Billy Graham recalled that during the Vietnam War when I was in prison, he visited my parents in Hawaii twice, and he and my father and mother prayed together for me, and I expressed my appreciation for that a long time ago."
The 45-minute meeting was expected to be just with Franklin, who is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But the frail elder Graham attended as well.
"My father and I were pleased to have an opportunity to meet and visit with Sen. John McCain today," Franklin Graham said in a statement. "Sen. McCain's office had requested a meeting in recent months, and we appreciate the effort he made to travel to my father's home. The senator and I both have sons currently serving in the military, and also have a common interest in aviation. I was impressed by his personal faith and his moral clarity on important social issues facing America today."
Speaking to reporters at Asheville Regional Airport, McCain said he asked for the meeting because the Grahams have known of him and his family for years.
"They're great leaders of this nation," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity to, to visit with them, and I am very grateful for the time they spent with me."
Asked how Billy Graham looked, McCain said "fine, fine."
McCain also met country music singer Ricky Scaggs, who had lunch with the Grahams and arrived early to meet the presidential candidate. They chatted and shook hands in the driveway as McCain was leaving.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee also said he would be "surprised" if the United States was sending troops and personnel to Iran, as has been recently reported. McCain said he had no information about that.