Bush stands behind McCain in presidential race
"He's going to be the president who will bring determination to defeat an enemy and a heart big enough to love those who hurt," Bush said standing with McCain in a Rose Garden ceremony intended to make the Arizona senator look more presidential to voters in the November election.
Once a bitter political rival to Bush, McCain was given VIP treatment at the White House after clinching the Republican nomination with big victories in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont on Tuesday.
Bush welcomed McCain and his wife at the front door to the executive mansion, the kind of greeting normally reserved for the most important visiting heads of state.
After lunching together in the president's private dining room, Bush publicly gave his backing to McCain, despite the acrimonious primary contests the two fought in the 2000 presidential campaign.
Questions remain, however, whether Bush's stamp of approval could help or hurt McCain, and it is unclear how much the president will campaign directly for his party's nominee.
Bush's public approval ratings are near the lows of his presidency, driven down largely by the unpopular war in Iraq.
McCain thanked the president for his endorsement, saying, "I hope he will campaign for me as much as in keeping with his busy schedule."