CNN's John Roberts asserted that Sen. John McCain “is a very different person, at least his record in terms of being a maverick and independent, than George Bush.” But Roberts did not mention that, according to Congressional Quarterly, McCain was the Bush administration's most reliable supporter in the Senate in 2007, or that McCain said in 2005 that “on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.”
Discussing former Secretary of State Colin Powell's possible presidential endorsement on the July 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, guest host John Roberts asserted that Sen. John McCain “is a very different person, at least his record in terms of being a maverick and independent, than George Bush.” But Roberts did not mention that, according to Congressional Quarterly, a nonpartisan publication that tracks legislators' votes, McCain was the Bush administration's most reliable supporter in the Senate in 2007, voting with the president 95 percent of the time. Moreover, when Bush endorsed McCain during a March 5 joint appearance, Bush said, "[T]he good news about our candidate is, there will be a new President, a man of character and courage -- but he's not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy."
In fact, McCain has publicly touted his embrace of Bush's policies. As Huffington Post noted in a June 12 blog post, in a June 19, 2005, appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, McCain told moderator Tim Russert, "[T]he fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush."
Roberts did not note that McCain has appeared at fundraisers with President Bush, as CNN correspondent Mary Snow noted on the May 29 edition of The Situation Room.
Media Matters for America has also documented that numerous figures in the broadcast and print media, including Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer, have described McCain as a maverick. But McCain has changed his position on Bush's tax cuts, originally opposing them, but now supporting their permanent extension. McCain voted against the final version of Bush's initial $1.35 trillion tax-cut package in 2001 -- explaining that he supported an earlier version of the bill “that provided more tax relief to middle income Americans,” but he could not “in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief” -- and then voted against legislation to accelerate the tax reductions enacted in the 2001 bill and to cut taxes on dividends and capital gains. However, in 2006, McCain voted for the bill extending the 2003 tax cuts, and, more recently, a press release on McCain's campaign website asserted, “John McCain will make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent, keeping income tax rates at their current level.” McCain now maintains that he originally voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts. Additionally, McCain has shifted his views of the religious right to align himself more closely with the base of the Republican Party.
From the July 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
ROBERTS: Let's start, first of all, with Colin Powell. As we said, this is a big endorsement. It looks like it might be up for grabs. Katrina, do you think that Barack Obama can peel him away from the Republican Party?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (The Nation editor and publisher): I do. I think that Colin Powell has been someone who considers the Republican Party too extremist, too caught up with the neoconservative disasters. And he might well see in Barack Obama someone who I think -- and The Nation argues in an article this week -- Barack Obama's foreign policy may well restore the bipartisan consensus which characterized Bush I, and not this radical, reckless Bush II, neoconservative regime.
ROBERTS: Dana, we all -- we all know how disillusioned Colin Powell was in the -- the Bush administration. I mean, it -- it started when -- when he got his knuckles rapped on North Korea. He wanted to hang around for at least a little while in the second term, and he sort of got shuffled out.
But John McCain is a very different person, at least his record in terms of being a maverick and independent, than George Bush. Do -- do -- is there any hope by the McCain campaign that they might hang on to Powell's endorsement?
DANA BASH (CNN congressional correspondent): There's a lot of hope, absolutely, by the McCain campaign that they would get a Powell endorsement. And even more importantly, a lot of -- of fear that there -- there would be a potential endorsement of Barack Obama for a lot of reasons. But I think the biggest reason is because the -- the central theme of the McCain campaign -- you talk to their advisers and you really -- you see it -- it's pretty obvious, is that they're trying to say Barack Obama isn't really the kind of person who reaches across the aisle. If he got a Colin Powell endorsement, it would be very, very difficult for the McCain campaign to make that -- to make that claim still.
The other thing, I think, that is -- you know, not to be the skunk at the garden party -- but obviously, Colin Powell is somebody who had trouble with the Bush administration. But he still, on his legacy, in his legacy, is what happened at the United Nations and how he was very central in making the case for war in Iraq.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, somebody's got to be the skunk at the garden party.