Philadelphia (CNSNews.com) - A humble Sen. John McCain formally endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush at the Republican national convention in Philadelphia Tuesday, calling him a friend and a man of good character.
"I am proud to join you this evening in commending to all Americans the man who now represents your best wishes and mine for the future of our country, my friend, Gov. George W. Bush, the next president of the United States," said the U.S. senator from Arizona.
McCain beat Bush in the key New Hampshire Republican presidential primary but ultimately lost the nomination to him in a sometimes bitter contest.
McCain has released the delegates he won in the primary so they can vote for Bush at the convention.
"I support [Gov. Bush]. I am grateful to him, and I am proud of him," said McCain
Echoing a theme delivered to the delegates last night by retired Gen. Colin Powell, McCain described Bush as a man who, as president, could unite the nation across racial, religious and economic lines.
"[Bush] wants nothing to divide us into separate nations. Not our color, not our race, not our wealth, not our religion, not our politics," said McCain.
Saying that Bush "is a good man from a good family," McCain told the delegates of a military connection between the McCain family and the Bush family. Bush's father, former president George Herbert Walker Bush, served in the Pacific under McCain's grandfather during World War II, said McCain.
"Now it is my turn to serve under the son of my grandfather's brave subordinate," said McCain, a former Vietnam War POW, who spent more than five years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton after his Navy jet was shot down over North Vietnam.
Bush is on the campaign trail, and he addressed the convention by video. He referred to McCain as his friend, indicating that there are no lingering bad feelings between the two from their primary battles.
Ultimately, said McCain, he is ready to back Bush in a unified effort to expand the Republican Party's base - the so-called "big tent" approach.
"My friend Gov. Bush believes in an America that is so much more than the sum of its divided parts. He wants to give you back a government that serves all the people, no matter the circumstances of their birth. And he wants to lead a Republican Party that is as big as the country we serve," said McCain.