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Now, another big name in Washington, Senator John McCain, took questions from reporters yesterday in his first news conference since he lost the election. The Arizona Republican held that news conference in Phoenix and said he had seen the future, and it holds a bid for a fifth term in the United States Senate. NPR's David Welna has the story.

DAVID WELNA: Senator McCain avoided reporters during the lame-duck session of Congress last week. But yesterday, shortly after President-elect Obama held his own news conference about the economy, McCain chose to break his silence. This was after the two former contenders met last week, and yesterday McCain continued making nice. When asked what advice he had for right-wing supporters who say the prospect of an Obama presidency terrifies them, he was categorical.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): Respect this landmark election, respect the fact America faces great challenges, and Americans expect us to work together. That does not mean we won't have differences.

WELNA: McCain did say he approved of many of the president-elect's choices for his economic team. He called them well-respected and people he could work with. He also said he plans to make immigration reform, which he rarely mentioned while campaigning, a priority.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Senator MCCAIN: I intend to discuss that with the president-elect. It's pretty clear that our agenda that all Americans are - is our economy. But I still am committed to comprehensive immigration reform.

WELNA: Looking back at his failed bid for the White House, McCain declared himself extremely proud to have had Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Senator MCCAIN: I think we look back with pride at the campaign we ran and accept that the people have made a decision. So the decision I'm basically making is to be able to continue to serve the state of Arizona and my country. And obviously that would mean in a couple of years asking for them to send me back, and I would expect a very tough race.

WELNA: Asked whether he might also try another presidential run, McCain stopped short of saying never again.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Senator MCCAIN: I do not envision a scenario that would entail that.

WELNA: McCain returns to his day job as a U.S. senator with what many colleagues say is greater clout. Here's the leader of Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky; Senate Minority Leader): He is our most prominent senator, without a question. He is very popular in our conference. We all think that he did a fabulous job under very, very difficult circumstances. To carry 46 percent of the vote in the wake of the president's unpopularity and the economic uncertainty was quite significant.

WELNA: Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman incurred the wrath of many of the Democrats he caucuses with by campaigning for McCain. He now sees the Arizona senator beginning a new chapter.

Senator JOE LIEBERMAN (Independent, Connecticut): Yeah, I'm glad to see John back. He's glad to be back, although he'd rather be preparing for his inauguration. But John's a very effective senator, and I think he comes back with renewed stature and a real eagerness to work across party lines to get things done.

WELNA: But Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions fears McCain might be too willing and eager to work across party lines.

Senator JEFF SESSIONS (Republican, Alabama): I hope he would not take the view that he could just partner with the Democrats and provide the extra votes to pass whatever they want. Hopefully, that won't happen.

WELNA: McCain, says his close GOP ally, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, will be what he's long been - a maverick.

Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): I think John will be John. I mean, issues important to John, he pursues in a bipartisan fashion. He's a solid conservative. He has a very strong conservative voting record, social and economically, but he also has the ability to be a dealmaker. I think he'll do both.

WELNA: California Democrat Dianne Feinstein also doesn't expect any big changes in former candidate, now Senator McCain. The Senate, she says, is a strange place. You come back to it pretty much as you left it.

Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN (Democrat, California): This body, I think, doesn't really have stars in its eyes. This body works from day to day, does its work. We are a body of equals in that sense. And I think once the campaign is over, it's over.

WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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