Cameron reminds me of JFK, says leading Republican

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Indy Politics

The Republican Senator John McCain has heaped praise on David Cameron, comparing the Tory leader to the US president John F Kennedy.

Mr McCain, who challenged George Bush in the presidential primaries six years ago and is a contender for the next Republican presidential nomination, described Mr Cameron as "a breath of fresh air" and said he had the talent to appeal to the "great centre of the British electorate".

Mr McCain was asked whether Mr Cameron had leadership qualities in an interview in The Spectator. He replied: "Oh, sure. Probably the most respected - can I say beloved - leader of my time was Jack Kennedy, who brought youth, incredible youth, the Camelot era, to the American public."

Mr McCain, 70, a Vietnam war hero, will address the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth next week to help cement the links between the Tories and the Republicans.

He told the magazine that he had been impressed with Mr Cameron's team of advisers. He said: "I've met most of them. They're young. They're exuberant. They're optimistic. They believe there's no obstacle that can't be overcome."

Mr McCain said: "It's very obvious to me that what Mr Cameron is trying to do is what I've been trying to do: preserve your base principles and philosophies, but also see how you can shape those policies to attract what is viewed as the independent voter, or the great middle of the British electorate.

"For example, in the United States our Republican Party basically [has] written off the State of California in the last several elections. Governor Schwarzenegger has just proved that California can be put in play. That's what I see Mr Cameron... doing."

He added: "I think that the Conservative Party has been in the wilderness for a period of time, and they are now getting more in tune with the great centre of the British electorate. I think our Republican Party needs to do more to get into the great centre of the American electorate."

In a separate interview in the New Statesman, Senator McCain said Mr Cameron had impressed him for "the way he has reinvigorated the Conservative Party and the youth movement in a Conservative vision for the future".

Mr McCain said he was "thrilled" at the resurgence of the Conservative Party. "I'm not young any more, as Maurice Chevalier used to sing in Gigi," the Senator said. "But when I look at this band of young Conservatives I am thrilled, because I've spent a lot of my time now trying to encourage a group of younger conservatives in this party... So it makes me thrilled and honoured to come over and address a party that is obviously on a comeback."

He added: "I have seen in them an attempt to restore confidence in voters that ethics, clean government... are priorities, and the influence of money and campaign contributions can be absolutely minimised so that there is less representation by the special interests, and more by the general populace. That is clearly an important issue in the United States, and it's obvious that there's been some scandals in the Labour Government."

"I think it resonates both among American voters and British voters ­ a commitment to ethical behaviour in government. And that includes the way you do business, who has access to the government and most of all, votes."