IMAGE: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Lm Otero  /  AP
Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, accompanied by Louisa County, Iowa Sheriff Curt Braby, tours the flooded area in Columbus Junction, Iowa, Thursday.
updated 6/20/2008 9:27:57 AM ET 2008-06-20T13:27:57

An aide to Gov. Chet Culver said Thursday that Republican presidential candidate John McCain ignored the governor's request to cancel a campaign visit amid a massive flood recovery effort in the state.

McCain toured flood-damaged sites in Iowa on Thursday, including the town of Columbus Junction in the southeast.

Patrick Dillon, Culver's chief of staff, said the governor was concerned that McCain's trip would divert local law enforcement from the flood recovery effort to provide security for McCain.

David Roederer, who chairs McCain's campaign in Iowa, said McCain's trip didn't hamper Iowa's recovery operation. He said McCain proceeded with the visit because the campaign was providing much of its own security.

"There was really no state resources diverted," Roederer said.

The mayor of Columbus Junction, Dan Wilson, agreed.

"Certainly, Mr. McCain's visit today in no way hindered any relief efforts or any of our efforts on recovery or security or whatever we were working on," Wilson said. He said McCain's staff called him Wednesday night and Thursday to be sure the visit would not cause a problem.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama canceled a scheduled visit to eastern Iowa last week at the request of state officials.

"As a courtesy — and as we did for Senator Obama — we privately made an effort to make sure that Senator McCain knew that state and local resources were still being deployed to support the flood fight and that now may not be the best time for a campaign trip," Dillon said in a statement.

Dillon's comments came as President Bush toured the state, and hundreds of law enforcement officers were diverted from flood recovery to provide security for him.

Culver, who endorsed Obama well before the primary campaign with rival Hillary Rodham Clinton was settled, is expected to be one of Obama's biggest supporters in Iowa during the general election.

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Dillon said the issue was not about the election but about recovering from flooding.

"At the end of the day, it's not about politics but about what's best for Iowa," he said. "We hope any attention brought to the state — from Senator McCain or any other leader — will help bring assistance and enduring commitments to support Iowa's recovery."

Iowa Sens. Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley also have teamed for a tour of their own to see the flood damage.

While these high-profile politicians bring attention to the disaster, they cause headaches for hard-pressed law enforcement. Bush and McCain are protected by the Secret Service, and call in scores of local law enforcement to provide security during local appearances.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Ongoing flood watch is 'slow-motion torture'


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