- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

PHOENIX, Feb. 21 (UPI) — John McCain launched a bid for a fourth term in the Senate, telling a fund-raiser crowd in Phoenix that although he had considered retirement, he believed he could still "help the state and nation."

McCain, 66, told the gala crowd Thursday that he had decided not to step down when his current term ends in 2005 due to the challenges the nation faces from the economy and the continuing war on terrorism.

"I do believe I can continue to serve and help the state and nation."

The Arizona Republic said McCain, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, drew around 600 guests to the Arizona Biltmore at $1,000-$2,000 per plate.

The self-styled GOP maverick has been a vocal proponent of campaign finance reform and was a chief rival of candidate George W. Bush during the last presidential race. He is currently a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services, Indian Affairs and Commerce Committees.

On Thursday, speakers that included Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling praised McCain as a champion of national defense and a dedicated opponent of pork-barrel politics.

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