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Did McCain consider bolting GOP?

According to a story breaking today, leading Democrats claim John McCain approached them about switching parties in early 2001. McCain vehemently denies this. Bob Cusack of The Hill reports:

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.

At the end of their March 31, 2001 lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Bethesda, Md., Downey said Weaver asked why Democrats hadn't asked McCain to switch parties.

Downey, a well-connected lobbyist, said he was stunned.

"You're really wondering?" Downey said he told Weaver. "What do you mean you're wondering?"

Read the whole story at the link above. They also claim John Edwards was used as an intermediary, which Edwards' camp is apparently confirming anonymously.

There are grave reasons to doubt this story. Daschle and Downey are on the outside now, and would like a way back into the spotlight. Edwards thinks he can win. Derailing one of the Republican frontrunners would serve all their interests.

Either McCain or Giuliani would club Hillary or Edwards with the experience card. But if McCain is forced out early - as this story could do - his supporters would likely see Thompson as their second choice. If Thompson is the nominee, his experience is no greater than Hillary's and not much more than Edwards'. The Democrats feel they have a better chance against him than the other leaders.

Daschle and Downey would have earned some chits with the next Democratic Administration if it works.

Captain Ed is also skeptical:

This story sounds a bit strange, even if McCain has done his best to look like a Democrat at times. If McCain came to Daschle, one would have to imagine that Daschle would have closed the deal immediately. The once and future Senate Majority Leader would have offered a senior Republican like McCain almost anything he wanted to jump ship - even after Jeffords bailed. With the kind of interest reported by The Hill, McCain sounds as if the right deal would have cinched it for the Democrats.

* * * * *

If true, this would effectively end McCain's presidential bid. He already has trust issues with Republicans, and this will do nothing but cause them to reject him entirely. However, the people who sourced this story have plenty of motivation to derail McCain, including Edwards, who thinks he may run against McCain in the general election. The principals tell completely conflicting stories, and the nature of the issue almost ensures that no independent proof one way or the other could exist. I'm betting this is nonsense.

Read his whole post at the above link.

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Comments (5)

hey, look at that! looks l... (Below threshold)

hey, look at that! looks like the democrats have learned some tricks from old turd blossom. good old fashioned whispering campaign and character assassination. i don't feel bad for johnny boy, but i do condemn this type of behavior. unless it's true, which seems unlikley, but who knows? it is tru that until recently mccain exhibited an anti Bush bias. until Rove caught him on film with a hooker, or something. can't really explain his about face water carrying. "thank you, mr. dobson; can i have another please, mr. falwell? what was that mr. haggard?"

Daschle, didn't I see his n... (Below threshold)

Daschle, didn't I see his name on a board connected to the Billion Dollar rip off by DiFi? Find a few billion dollars stolen from the taxpayers and you'll find a swarm of democrats. You know the mentally retarded just can't help themselves.

Good thing I don't support ... (Below threshold)

Good thing I don't support McCain.

McCain is VERRRRRY obviousl... (Below threshold)

McCain is VERRRRRY obviously impaired in his ability to think conceptually about the Costitution. Why dilute THAT PROVABLE FACT with unprovable rumors or theories and thus get bogged down in arguments over red herrings with the ever-present professional trouble-makers? Hmmmmmm? Sheesh!

Hey, if McCain wins the GOP... (Below threshold)

Hey, if McCain wins the GOP nomination, he should trot out Dachsle and Downey to repeat the story. What a tool for winning over conservative and moderate Dems and independents in the general election campaign.







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