John McCain met Sunday with evangelist Billy Graham and his son, Franklin, at the family's mountaintop retreat.
The Republican presidential candidate, who is actively courting religious voters and trying to reassure skeptical conservatives, visited privately with the Grahams on the grounds of Little Piney Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.
"We had a very excellent conversation. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with them," McCain said after the 45-minute meeting.
McCain's visit to North Carolina was his first sit-down with Billy Graham, 89, and with Franklin Graham, although McCain and the elder Graham are acquainted.
The world-renowned evangelist is in poor health but apparently felt well enough to visit with McCain, who flew to North Carolina with the expectation of meeting only with Franklin Graham, who is president and chief executive of the evangelistic association his father founded in 1950.
McCain said he did not know if the Grahams would vote for him. "I didn't ask for their votes," he said, calling them "great leaders."
After the meeting, Franklin Graham issued a statement praising the Arizona senator's "personal faith and his moral clarity."
"The senator and I both have sons currently serving in the military, and also have a common interest in aviation," Franklin Graham said. "I was impressed by his personal faith and his moral clarity on important social issues facing America today."
Franklin Graham said his father told a story about meeting McCain's father, a Navy admiral, on a trip to Vietnam during the war when John McCain was being held as a prisoner of war after his military plane was shot out of the sky. The two prayed for John McCain during his captivity.