WASHINGTON – John McCain pointedly refused to say Sunday that he would back former running mate Sarah Palin if she runs for president in 2012, saying there are plenty of other good people in the Republican Party to consider.

“Oh, no,” McCain said on ABC’s This Week program when asked if Palin could count on McCain’s support if she seeks the Republican presidential nomination.

“Listen, I have the greatest appreciation for Governor Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign. She was just down in Georgia and invigorated their campaign.

“But I can’t say something like that. We’ve got some great other young governors. I think you’re going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party.”

As examples, he mentioned Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty – who McCain passed over to select Palin as his running mate – and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Pressed by moderator George Stephanopoulos, McCain joked that it’s still early to expect him to take sides so soon after losing his own campaign.

“My corpse is still warm, you know?” he said.

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