PHOENIX, April 15 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is touring the country, preparing to run for president prompting analysis of his reputation as a straight talker, ABC News said.
When McCain agreed recently to deliver the commencement speech at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, some political analysts questioned McCain's political independence.
When he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain positioned himself as politically independent, a straight-talker, who refused to pander to religious extremes. Along the way he denounced some fundamentalist Christian leaders, including Falwell.
ABC News asked McCain if he would take back his statement that Falwell was an agent of intolerance.
"I will continue to have disagreements with Rev. Falwell," said McCain, "and I hope that there will be areas where we can agree."
Speaking at Liberty University does not mean he endorses Falwell's views, McCain said. He's also speaking at liberal universities even though he disagrees with policies at some liberal institutions that bar military recruiters from campus.
Political watchers -- including Falwell -- say McCain is trying to repair relations with the religious right to boost his chances of winning the Republican nomination for president in 2008, ABC reported.