Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Somebody’s Lying

Posted by Adam Graham on March 28, 2007

That’s what it comes down to in a twisted tale of intrigue surrounding John McCain’s alleged near decision to leave the GOP:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.

In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.

Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them…

Daschle noted that McCain at that time was frustrated with the Bush administration as a result of his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary.

Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain “had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.”

And to top it off, it was a very concerted effort with lots of Senators involved:

Other senators who played major roles in the intense recruiting effort, according to Democrats, were then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as well as Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“John [Edwards] at that time was working with McCain on a couple things and there was a sense that because of his relationship that he might be a good person to talk to him,” Daschle said. “He was clearly one of those that we thought could be helpful.”

A source close to Edwards said Daschle’s comments are accurate.

Daschle also said, “Both Sen. Reid and I talked to [McCain] both individually and together.”

Several former McCain aides who worked for the senator in 2001 and are now in the private sector did not return phone calls seeking comment.

For McCain’s part (and that of a senior aide), they deny the whole thing:

Absolutely not so, according to McCain. In a statement released by his campaign, McCain said, “As I said in 2001, I never considered leaving the Republican Party, period…”

He [Weaver, a former McCain staffer] said McCain was invited to a meeting in Kennedy’s office with several other Democratic senators but “didn’t know what the meeting was for” and left soon thereafter. Weaver added that Edwards approached McCain on the Senate floor to discuss the matter.

Now Daschle insists it went much deeper, and the idea of a three term Senator wandering around confused as to why he was meeting with a cadre of Democratic Senators seems not only unbelievable but doesn’t necessarily give much confidence in a McCain presidency.

Captain Ed is pretty clear on what this means if it’s true:

If true, this would effectively end McCain’s presidential bid.

Morrisey sees some serious problems that are worth addressing:

McCain had his opportunity later as well. Recall the flirtation from John Kerry and the Democrats in 2004 about McCain serving as his running mate? If he had that kind of inclination in 2001, he would have found that sotto voce offer too tempting to refuse. Instead, McCain scotched the rumors and campaigned for George Bush and many other Republican candidates in the 2004 election.

Key difference. We’re talking March, 2001 and post-9/11. I think that really changed everything. Knowing Kerry’s record and the importance of prosecuting the war, throwing a tift at the administration would be out as an option. America’s at war and you support the commander-in-chief. This would be my bet is that McCain thought about switching but wouldn’t dream of it due to the war after 9/11.

Another blogger raised a good point to which Morrisey responded:

Allahpundit puts more credence in it than I do, making the good point that if it were just a smear, they would have waited until the general election to use it. However, the same would be true if the story is on the level. Why talk about this now in either case? It almost seems like someone couldn’t wait to spill the beans — and that does give some weight to the story

I think the crucial point being missed here is that the story’s been out there and available for anyone who’d like to read it since November, 2003 when Daschle’s book came out. This has been no secret. McCain’s campaign has been in a fading funk. He’s faded so much that his friend, former Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) is about to jump in. Some might want to save the story, but if the paper sits on it, pretty soon there may not be a story.

Someone is not being honest and I can’t say who for sure, but we’ve got two candidates: a fading Republican Presidential Candidate who would implode if activists accepted this story in wide-range, or two Democratic leaders whose main motivation would be to put a struggling campaign out of its misery. Take your pick.

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Virtuous Republic, A Blog For All, The Random Yak, Stuck On Stupid, Cao’s Blog, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Amboy Times, Conservative Cat, Pursuing Holiness, third world county, stikNstein… has no mercy, Overtaken by Events, Right Voices, and makimaki page, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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One Response to “Somebody’s Lying”

  1. Personally, I don’t care whether it’s true or not. McCain is no conservative, and he’s a bad pick for President.

    His years of cozying up to the Democrats and the leftist media as a “maverick” Republican have left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not to mention McCain-Feingold.

    The only thing he has going for him as a candidate is that he supports victory in Iraq.

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