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McCain rebukes 'Star Wars' quip

WASHINGTON -- Just four days after bowing out of a reelection campaign -- and paving the way for a 2008 presidential run -- Governor Mitt Romney yesterday drew his first rebuke from a White House rival.

Romney had been quoted as saying of Senator John McCain of Arizona: ''You know, John McCain, the other day, said that he thinks about being president every day in the shower. I guess I'd turn instead to the words of 'Star Wars,' which is it's in a galaxy far, far away. Look, that's down the road. It's a lifetime away in the world of politics."

When ABC's George Stephanopoulos ran a tape of Romney's comments on his show, ''This Week," yesterday, McCain shot back: ''I'm glad that the governor is paying attention to the jokes that I tell on talk shows, but New Hampshire is not that far away from Massachusetts."

Demonstrating one's modesty by denying plans to run for president in the years before the primary season is practically a requirement of a successful presidential run.

Despite their assertions, political pros say both men are almost certain to run -- barring any unforeseen circumstances.

PETER S. CANELLOS

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