Citing Policy Differences, Dozens Of Republicans Refuse To Publicly Back McCain

The Hill reports this morning that “at least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president,” adding that “more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator.” Though some lawmakers “declined to detail” why they wouldn’t support McCain, others cited “major concerns” about McCain’s policies on energy and Iraq.

Here’s The Hill’s list of GOP lawmakers “who have not endorsed or publicly backed McCain“:

Republican members who have not endorsed or publicly backed McCain include Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Reps. Jones, Peterson, John Doolittle (Calif.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Virgil Goode (Va.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Todd Tiahrt (Kan.), Dave Weldon (Fla.) and Frank Wolf (Va.).

Additionally, a “handful” of other GOP lawmakers have made a distinction between “endorsing” and “supporting,” saying that while they won’t endorse McCain, they will vote for him in November.

Asked yesterday by Fox News’s Neil Cavuto if he was “willing now to endorse John McCain,” Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) deflected the question, saying “it’s been nice talking to you.” “I’m probably going to vote for John McCain, that’s as far as I’m going to go,” allowed Tancredo. Watch it:

One of the most prominent conservatives withholding support from McCain is Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).

In March, Hagel declined endorsing McCain, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he had “John and I have some pretty fundamental disagreements on the future of foreign policy.” More recently, Hagel criticized McCain’s bellicose rhetoric on engaging in diplomacy with Iran:

I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way….”

Hagel then offered a wry tweak of his GOP colleague. “I am confident that if Obama is elected president that is the approach we will take. And my friend John McCain said some other things about that. We’ll see, but in my opinion it has to be done. It is essential.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed The Hill’s tally, saying that “John McCain has strong support among Republicans and even some others in the Congress for taking principled stands.”