SALT LAKE CITY — In a show of Republican unity, one-time bitter foes John McCain and Mitt Romney raised money and campaigned together Thursday for a single goal _ getting McCain elected president.
"We are united. Now our job is to energize our party," the Arizona senator said in an airport hangar, flanked by Romney and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., an early McCain supporter. Both have been mentioned as potential vice presidential picks, and McCain praised each.
Romney lauded McCain and promised to do all he can to help, saying: "He is a man who is proven and tested" and without question the right man to be president.
In February, Romney won 90 percent of the vote in Utah to McCain's 5 percent. Romney's ties to the state run deep, from his Mormon faith to his work overseeing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
"Look, that wasn't the only state I lost to Governor Romney in _ it was just the largest loss,' McCain said chuckling. He joked that it was abject humiliation but understandable given Romney's Utah links. "I was at least hoping to break into double digits though!"
"I think he did just fine in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, California ...," Romney said, laughing about states McCain won.
The two then headed to Denver for another fundraiser accompanied by Meg Whitman, the outgoing chief executive of eBay Inc. and a former Romney backer who now supports McCain.
On the flight, there seemed to be little residual acrimony between the former rivals.
They sat next to each other and ate turkey sandwiches. They laughed and talked during the hourlong flight, and were complimentary of each other when talking to reporters traveling with McCain.
A tanned and rested Romney said it was fun to be campaigning again and nice not to feel any pressure. "I don't have to worry about goofing up," he said. He brushed aside questions about a No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket.
At one point, McCain answered a question by lamenting an accelerated GOP primary process that he said doesn't allow voters to scrutinize the candidates as much.
"Mitt just went through the process," McCain said and turned to the former governor.
"The process was very good to you ...," Romney responded. McCain laughed, and Romney added that the process was good to him, too.
McCain, who has struggled to raise money compared to Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, is on a weeklong Western fundraising swing. Romney is popular in Utah and Colorado, states with large numbers of Mormons.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, dropped out of the race last month after it became apparent it would be near impossible to topple McCain in the convention delegate race. He endorsed the Arizona senator a week later and pledged to help him win the nomination.
Since then, McCain has praised Romney repeatedly as someone who is certain to continue playing a large role in the GOP. Romney, for his part, has suggested that he'd accept a vice presidential slot, though some Republicans privately speculate that he's looking ahead to a possible repeat run in 2012.
Neither man appeared especially fond of the other during the campaign. Romney cast McCain as outside of the GOP's conservative mainstream and a Washington insider who contributed to the problems there. McCain, in turn, argued that Romney's equivocations and reversals on issues indicated a willingness to change his positions to fit his political goals.