McCain backs free-trade agreements

Republican John McCain on Friday told Ohio autoworkers that he supports free-trade agreements that many of them think cost jobs. He also said he backed government investment to help produce electric cars.

His comments followed a tour of a General Motors factory that produces the gas-thrifty Chevrolet Cobalt.

GM has also announced plans to build in 2010 the Chevrolet Volt, which will travel 40 miles by battery power but have a 7-gallon gas tank extending its range to 140 miles.

McCain praised both developments as he also made the pitch for an energy strategy that calls for producing more oil, developing a revolutionary automotive battery pack, and conserving energy in the government's office buildings and federal auto fleet.

“We must develop vehicles such as are being developed here,” McCain told employees attending a town-hall meeting. Associated Press

Vietnamese jailer speaks out on McCain

John McCain has an unusual endorsement – from the Vietnamese jailer who says he held him captive for about five years as a POW and now considers him a friend.

“If I were an American voter, I would vote for Mr. John McCain,” Tran Trong Duyet said Friday, sitting in his living room in Haiphong, surrounded by black-and-white photos of a younger version of himself and former Vietnam War prisoners.

At the same time, he denies prisoners of war were tortured. Despite detailed POW accounts and physical wounds, Duyet claims McCain made up beatings and solitary confinement in an attempt to win votes.

Duyet's statements seem to echo the communist leadership's overall line on America: It insists the torture claims are fabricated, but that Vietnam now considers the U.S. a friend and wants to lay the past to rest. Duyet said one of the reasons he likes McCain for president is the candidate's willingness to forgive and look to the future. Associated Press

Hagel: No plans to make an endorsement

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., declined to endorse his party's likely nominee, John McCain, and said he would consider serving as secretary of defense in a Barack Obama administration. Hagel, who last year considered a White House run as an independent, said he would remain a Republican: “Right now I'm not considering changing my registration.”

“I don't have any plans to endorse any candidate,” Hagel, 61, said Friday. Bloomberg News