Bush Endorses McCain? Not So Fast...

ABC News' John Hendren Reports: As Air Force One cruised toward tornado-ravaged Tennessee, White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel eased back reporters from interpreting President Bush's morning address to a conservative conference as an implicit endorsement of Senator John McCain's 2008 bid. According to a pool report from Jon Ward of the Washington Times, Stanzel insisted Bush has "stayed studiously neutral" in the White House race, though Bush veterans Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman appear to be ready to accept McCain as 2008's standard Republican bearer.

Stanzel acknowledged that former governor Mitt Romney's depature from the race was "a step toward the Republican nominee" but reiterated it "would be wrong" to present the President's remarks as a rally cry for Republicans to gather around McCain.

The White House deputy added, again according to the pool reporter, that it is "important to look at the President's words and "not what you believe them to be."

As to whether Republicans, who still have McCain, former governor Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., in the race, have a nominee, Stanzel said, "We're not there yet."

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