- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

Former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile lobbied the House yesterday on campaign finance, fulfilling a partnership she said began with Republican Sen. John McCain during the 2000 presidential race.
Miss Brazile said she got to know Mr. McCain during the Republican South Carolina presidential primary in February 2000, when he was locked in a fierce contest with then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and she was coordinating strategy for Vice President Al Gore.
She was also interested in banishing the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol in Columbia; Mr. McCain and his "Straight Talk Express" were coming off a surprising victory in the New Hampshire primary.
"We struck up a friendship," Miss Brazile said. "John Weaver [a McCain adviser] was our emissary."
She said the Arizona Republican was instrumental in persuading her to work for a ban on "soft money" campaign donations, and they agreed to work together on election reform as well. Mr. McCain introduced an election reform bill in May 2001.
"The campaign finance system is broken," she said.
Miss Brazile said one of her tasks yesterday was to lobby members of the Congressional Black Caucus, some of whom had reservations about the bill sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, and Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat.
"I'm working for our leader," she said, referring to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt.
Mr. McCain's alliance with the former manager of the 2000 Democratic presidential campaign wasn't his only behavior that had House Republicans simmering on the eve of the landmark vote.
Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, told colleagues at a closed-door meeting of Republicans that Mr. McCain was working with the House Democrats' campaign committee to pressure Republicans to vote for Shays-Meehan.
"This guy is so deep in bed with the Democrats on this issue that his feet are coming out the bottom of the sheets," Mr. Pence told House Republicans, who hooted loudly.
Mr. Pence said he received negative publicity this week in a local newspaper as a result of a press release from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The press release listed House Republicans for whom Mr. McCain campaigned in 2000 and who "promised," according to the DCCC, to support his signature campaign finance legislation. Mr. Pence does not support Mr. McCain's legislation and never did.
"I just want you to know who you're dealing with," Mr. Pence told the group. "This guy does not have our best interests at heart."
"I was pretty worked up about it," Mr. Pence said later.
A spokesman for Mr. McCain's Straight Talk America political action committee did not return a phone call seeking comment.
McCain spokeswoman Nancy Ives said the senator was working yesterday with "the leaders of reform in the House" but otherwise kept to his Senate schedule.

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