By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidentialcandidate John McCain said on Monday he will try to allay anyfears Americans have about his age by showing them how hard heworks.
McCain, 71, would be the oldest American ever elected to afirst presidential term if he wins the November election overeither Democrat Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
"People will judge me by my performance," McCain said,expressing confidence that "my energy, my intellect, myexperience and my judgment" will prove to Americans he canhandle the pressures of the job.
Arizona Sen. McCain told the annual meeting of theAssociated Press that during the Republican primary battle heout-campaigned his opponents by working "16-, 18-, 20-hourdays."
"I am capable of doing that," he said. "I know I am doingthat. If anyone has any further doubts, come and meet my96-year-old mother. We're going to do it. Not to worry."
McCain said some in the news media consider his choice ofvice presidential running mate of greater importance given hisage, but he believes it is more important to have a runningmate who shares his philosophy, values and priorities.
"That would be the criteria that I have. But certainly itwill be an important selection. It should always be animportant selection. And it may be viewed by some as moreimportant in my case," McCain said.
McCain is just starting the process of considering who hewill ask to join him on the Republican ticket. He said he hopedto have a decision "earlier than later, but it is a longprocess to go through."
McCain ruled out asking either Obama or Clinton to join hisCabinet if he were to win, but said he would ask some formertop U.S. corporate executives to work for him for $1 yearbecause "now it's time for them to give back."
He specifically mentioned the former chief executiveofficer of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, who is one of hiseconomic advisers.
(Editing by David Wiessler)
(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visitReuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online athttp://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)