Former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, all independents, were grouped with Democrats because each caucused with Democrats during the time under study.
Bipartisanship is a frequent issue on the campaign trail, with the McCain camp and surrogates such as Mr. Graham arguing the standard is how often someone takes leadership on an issue in defiance of his own party - a measure by which Mr. Obama falls short and Mr. McCain clearly excels.
He even revels in his stances, telling the audience at a values forum at Saddleback Church in California last month his list is extensive: “Climate change, out-of-control spending, torture.” He could have added campaign-finance overhaul, immigration, a patients’ bill of rights, gun control and tax cuts as other areas on which he’s broken with the majority of his party.
At the same forum, Mr. Obama said his major break with Democrats came on congressional ethics, when he sponsored a bill to curb meals and gifts from lobbyists.
In a memo to reporters, his campaign points to bills he worked on that gained near-unanimous support from both parties, including a bill more than a third of the Senate signed onto, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, pushing peace initiatives in Sudan, and a bill sponsored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, on charitable contributions that passed by a voice vote in each chamber.
But foremost, his campaign cites his work teaming up in 2006 with Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, on the Cooperative Proliferation Detection Act, a noncontroversial measure to secure weapons of mass destruction, and with Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, to force the administration to create a searchable database to track federal spending grants.
Speaking to reporters during the Republican National Convention earlier this month Obama aide Robert Gibbs said Mr. Lugar and Mr. Coburn would back up Mr. Obama’s bipartisanship claims.
Mr. Lugar’s spokesman said the senator is not doing interviews on the subject. Mr. Coburn, in an interview, said Mr. Obama is a good senator to work with, but said there’s no comparison to Mr. McCain’s long record.
“Barack is a great guy, a nice guy, he’s a good friend of mine. He has passed two pieces of legislation since he’s been in the Senate - had his name on two,” Mr. Coburn said. He praised Mr. Obama’s staff for the work they did on the spending grants bill, but he said Mr. Obama hasn’t gone head-to-head against his leadership when it mattered: “Where have you seen him challenge the status quo?”
Mr. McCain on the campaign trail cites his own frequent Democratic legislative allies such as Mr. Lieberman, with whom he’s worked on gun control and global warming; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was his partner for immigration and patients’ rights; Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, who worked with him on campaign finance; and Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who was the top Democrat on the Indian Affairs Committee when Mr. McCain was chairman.
Mr. Feingold, Mr. Dorgan and Mr. Kennedy didn’t respond or declined through spokesmen to talk about the issue. Mr. Lieberman, however, has gone in the opposite direction, endorsing Mr. McCain for office and hitting Mr. Obama for failing to live up to his bipartisan claims.
Mr. Graham said it was unfortunate people weren’t recognizing their work with Mr. McCain.
“What you’ve got now is, you’ve got some people who are afraid to recognize John’s bipartisanship because of the nature of the election,” Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham has teamed up with Mr. McCain on some of his most contentious bills, including the immigration and campaign-finance fights, and said they both have “the scars to prove” they were in the fights.
“I have experienced the price that’s been paid to help John do some difficult things since 2004,” he said.View Entire Story
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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