During the November 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin reported on the voting records of Democratic presidential candidates who are also current U.S. senators. Yellin stated that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has missed “nearly 80 percent [of Senate roll-call votes] since September” and that Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (DE), Chris Dodd (CT), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) “don't have great voting records, either.” She added that “the Obama campaign points out that if you consider the entire year of voting, it is not Obama who's missed the most, but Senator Biden, then Dodd, and Obama comes in third.” However, Yellin left out the fact that Sen. John McCain (AZ) -- the only current Republican presidential candidate who is a sitting U.S. senator -- has missed more votes than any other senator since Congress convened in January, with the exception of Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who spent months recuperating from a brain hemorrhage.
According to washingtonpost.com's U.S. Congress Votes Database, Obama has missed 74 out of 93 roll-call votes (79.6%) since the end of the August congressional recess. McCain has missed 63 out of 93 roll-call votes (67.8%) since the end of the August congressional recess. But for the entire year, McCain has missed 79 more votes than Obama; since January, McCain has missed 212 out of 403 (52.6%) roll-call votes in the 110th Congress, while Obama has missed 133 out of 403 (33.0%) roll-call votes.
From the November 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Let's move on, though, to another story you're following, Jessica, and that involves these presidential candidates who are also lawmakers and the no-shows as far as votes are concerned. What's going on, on that front?
YELLIN: Well, what we have learned is that if you take a look since recess -- since congressional recess in August, we examined the voting records of the Democratic presidential candidates and it turns out that of all of them, Barack Obama has missed the most votes here in Congress.
[begin video clip]
YELLIN: It's become one of the most consistent themes of Barack Obama's campaign, slamming Senator Clinton for her vote on an Iran amendment. He claims it empowers the president to attack Iran.
OBAMA: This kind of resolution does not send the right signal to the region; it doesn't send the right signal to our allies or our enemies.
YELLIN: But Barack Obama never voted on that amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Obama.
YELLIN: While Hillary Clinton was voicing her support for it, Senator Obama was campaigning in New Hampshire. Obama's campaign says he didn't get enough notice to make it back to the Senate in time, though Clinton, Biden, and Dodd voted. In fact, since returning from the August recess, Senator Obama has missed the most votes of any of the Democratic presidential candidates, nearly 80 percent since September. The others don't have great voting records, either.
According to the Obama campaign, he has made the most important votes, including on Iraq and key domestic priorities. And he did cancel an appearance on The View to cast a crucial vote on the children's heath insurance measure.
STU ROTHENBERG: I think most Americans understand that if you're running for president, you're going to have to be in Iowa, New Hampshire, and you're not going to make all the votes -- and they give candidates slack.
YELLIN: But facing a mounting fight with the White House over key bills, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] is putting all the contenders on notice.
REID: I'm going to leave here and go call our presidentials and let them know that they better look at their schedules because these are not votes you can miss.
[end video clip]
YELLIN: Now, Wolf, the Obama campaign points out that if you consider the entire year of voting, it is not Obama who's missed the most, but Senator Biden, then Dodd, and Obama comes in third. And I have an important point to make about that Iran amendment, which Obama has made such an important part of his campaign. Now, again, his campaign contends that Obama did not get enough notice to return to D.C. to make that vote, but two Democratic Senate sources tell CNN that all senators were advised the night before that the vote would come up the next day and Senator Obama should have known that vote was coming.
Faced with this information, the Obama campaign adamantly stands by their position: The senator simply did not have enough notice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right Jessica, thanks very much. By the way, presidential candidates in Congress usually have a heads-up that a big vote is coming, so they can plan their schedules around it if they want. On the day of the vote, members of both chambers get about a 15-minute warning; when the vote begins, lights flash on clocks inside the Capitol, bells start to ring, members can get electronic pages or email to let them know a vote is underway as well.