Republican officials said plans are in the works for McCain to appear with Bush on the campaign trail during the week of the Republican convention in New York that will nominate Bush for a second term. Then the plan is for them to campaign together immediately after the convention.
This comes after the veteran senator traveled with the president last week to Florida, New Mexico and Arizona and spent the night at Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, where they are said to have gotten along famously.
"It helps having him stand by my side," Bush said during a stop with McCain in Niceville, Florida, last week.
Rick Davis, who was McCain's 2000 campaign manager, said McCain and Bush are getting to know each other better and have spent more time together in the past month than in Bush's entire term.
"No doubt Bush is discovering that McCain has a lot to offer," he said. "The more you get to know the guy, the more you're going to love him. I think the Bush people have finally figured that out."
Bush and McCain fought a bitter Republican primary battle in 2000 that strained relations between them. And McCain, who has always had a maverick streak, has never been shy to question some of Bush's policies.
Just this week he voiced concerns about Bush's plan to bring home up to 70,000 U.S. troops over 10 years from bases overseas. "I hope as some critics allege this is not a retreat to 'Fortress America,"' he said.