The New York Times' Adam Nagourney wrote that Sen. John McCain “is, to a considerable degree, sprinting away from his own party and looking to distance himself from an unpopular incumbent president.” In fact, McCain has accepted fundraising help from President Bush and was the administration's most reliable supporter in the Senate last year, according to a vote analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly. Further, far from “sprinting away” from the Republican Party, McCain has changed his position on numerous issues to align himself more closely with the party's base.
In a June 22 article, New York Times national political correspondent Adam Nagourney reported that Sen. John McCain “has promoted an image as a renegade” in the Senate, and that “McCain is, to a considerable degree, sprinting away from his own party and looking to distance himself from an unpopular incumbent president.” But Nagourney did not note 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. Nor did Nagourney mention that McCain has accepted fundraising help from President Bush, as the Times noted in a separate June 22 article. Indeed, Bush and McCain recently appeared at a fundraiser together, as the Times reported on May 28. Moreover, when Bush endorsed McCain during a March 5 joint appearance, McCain stated: “I'll be pleased to have him [Bush] with me both from raising money and the much needed finances for the campaign, and addressing the challenging issues that face this country. I'm pleased to have him as is -- as it fits into his busy schedule.”
Also, contrary to Nagourney's assertion that McCain is “sprinting away from his own party,” McCain has changed his position on numerous issues -- including tax cuts, immigration, and the religious right -- to align himself more closely with the base of the Republican Party. The most recent of these reversals by McCain is on the issue of offshore drilling. The Times reported on June 19 that McCain is among a group of Republicans who “are abandoning their long-held opposition to drilling in coastal waters.” In a June 29, 2006, vote on the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, 192 House Republicans voted to lift the federal moratorium on drilling and allow drilling if states agreed to do so, while only 31 House Republicans opposed the measure. The bill was not considered -- or voted upon -- in the Senate.
From the June 22 New York Times article, which discussed similarities and differences between McCain's campaign and the 1996 presidential campaign of former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS):
They are war heroes with the injuries to show for it. They are known for hurricane tempers and caustic wit. They are among the oldest men to seek the presidency.
And Democrats are hoping that the 1996 candidacy of Bob Dole will be a template for what will happen to Senator John McCain in his run for the White House this year.
But for all the obvious similarities, there are also sufficient differences between the two Republicans to make surface comparisons somewhat misleading.
Mr. Dole was not just a creature of the Senate but the very face of the Washington legislative establishment. Mr. McCain has promoted an image as a renegade in the body, scolding it, for example, for its pork barrel spending.
Mr. McCain is, to a considerable degree, sprinting away from his own party and looking to distance himself from an unpopular incumbent president. Mr. Dole resisted running against an institution that he cherished, and that made it easier for Democrats to tie him to what they portrayed as the Republican Party's excesses during the period when the House speaker, Newt Gingrich, and the ascendant conservative wing of the party were seeking to reshape domestic policy.