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McCain would have liked heads-up from Powell

Republican John McCain today said he regrets that retired Gen. Colin Powell crossed party lines to endorse Democrat Barack Obama and expressed disappointment that his longtime friend didn't notify him first.

"I was surprised that he didn't call me before," McCain told the Tribune-Review in an exclusive telephone interview on the eve of a campaign swing through Pennsylvania that includes a rally at Robert Morris University in Moon.

Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed Obama Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

Powell acknowledged a close relationship with McCain for more than two decades, saying he weighed the decision long and hard. One reason Powell gave for not endorsing McCain was the Republican's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Powell said he doesn't consider Palin prepared to be president, which is the primary role of the vice president.

McCain chided Powell for criticizing Palin.

"I wished he had taken the opportunity to meet Governor Palin," McCain said. "I'm proud to have four former secretaries of state endorse me and over 200 admirals and generals who are retired support me."

McCain said he will focus on the economy and jobs during Tuesday's campaign swing through Pennsylvania.

"That's what's on everybody's mind, understandably," McCain said.

McCain also said he will push back against a recent comment by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha describing Western Pennsylvania as "racist."

"I'm going to tell people in Western Pennsylvania that I don't believe they are racists, as Congressman Murtha alleges," said McCain, who called the comment "disgraceful." Murtha, a Johnstown Democrat, has apologized.

Murtha last week said that a racist mindset in Western Pennsylvania could cost Obama as much as four percentage points at the polls.

"Congressman Murtha made inexcusable statements. I'm glad he apologized but that's the nature of Congressman Murtha, " McCain said. "Why anybody would say that about the good people in Western Pennsylvania or anywhere else in America is utterly inexcusable."

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