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McCain: Obama, Hill allies not bipartisan

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2009

Sen. John McCain says President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress have failed to live up to a campaign pledge of improving bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

In remarks that echoed complaints he made in an interview with The Washington Times published Sunday, Mr. McCain said while Republicans could have been "more forthcoming ... really the president does beat the drum and sets the pace."

"So far, there has not been not an instance where they sat down across the table and said, 'OK, what do you want? What are you demanding here? What do you think is best?' ” the Arizona Republican said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee complained that Democrats have shut Republicans out of the drafting of major pieces of legislation this session, including the $787 billion stimulus package and the $410 billion omnibus spending bill.

Mr. McCain said Democrats are crafting what could be the biggest budget in U.S. history without their help.

"There's not the negotiations" that were promised, he said.

But Mr. McCain held back further criticism of the Obama White House, giving credit to the president for trying to follow through on his vow of changing the political culture of Washington.

"I think this is early in his administration. I don't think we should make judgments," Mr. McCain said. "There's no doubt this president has as great a challenge as any president ever has in the history of this country, certainly amongst the top three or four. So let's continue to work to try to make him succeed."

Mr. McCain also gave the president kudos for his handling of national-security policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying Mr. Obama has worked with Republicans on policy issues in the two countries.

"I think the president has done the right thing on Iraq," he said.