- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

A world-class publicity hound, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain evidently could not stand the fact that renegade Republican Sen. James Jeffords temporarily stole the media spotlight by bolting the Republican Party. So, it was hardly a coincidence that the lead Saturday article in The Washington Post trumpeted the headline, "McCain Is Considering Leaving GOP/ Arizona Senator Might Launch a Third-Party Challenge to Bush in 2004." The story, which cited "those close to the senator," appeared two days after four McCain loyalists lunched in Washington to discuss whether Mr. McCain should leave the Republican Party. The article, which reported that the "maverick" has privately discussed switching parties with at least three Democratic senators, including soon-to-be Majority Leader Tom Daschle, appeared the same day Mr. McCain was preparing to welcome Mr. Daschle to his Arizona ranch, along with Democratic Leadership Council President Bruce Reed, who was President Clintons domestic policy adviser.
Clearly, Mr. McCain has never come to terms with the fact that he was not elected president last year. In fact, in a very weird and bizarre way, the Arizona "maverick" somehow convinced himself that it was his agenda voters adopted in electing George W. Bush president. Even before Mr. Bush took the oath of office, Mr. McCain was threatening to tie the Senate in knots unless Majority Leader Trent Lott acceded to Mr. McCains demand that his campaign-finance-reform proposal take precedence over Mr. Bushs tax-relief and education-reform agenda. To hear him explain it, it had to do with his commitment to the 5 million people who voted for him in the primaries, which happened to be tens of millions fewer than those who voted for Mr. Bush.
Reveling once again in the media spotlight, Mr. McCain issued a statement Saturday, declaring, "I have no intention of running for president, nor do I have any intention or cause to leave the Republican Party." That is hardly a Shermanesque assertion, especially coming from someone who lamely told The Post, "I dont envision running again." Nor does the statement square with the truly bizarre reasoning he gave to The Post, which reported that Mr. McCain does not believe his willingness to discuss party-switching with leading Democrats should be interpreted as a signal of his willingness to abandon the Republican Party.
Reacting to Mr. Jeffords defection, Mr. McCain admonished the White House and party leaders, telling them, "It is well past time for the Republican Party to grow up." Acting childishly as though it were his agenda the voters endorsed in the November presidential election, Mr. McCain ought to follow his own advice and "grow up."


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