Ignoring missed votes, CNN's Watts said McCain fundraising suffered because he "had to go be a senator"


On the May 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN political analyst J.C. Watts told host Wolf Blitzer that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) "reported about $12.5 million raised in the first quarter; $11 million of that was raised in a month. And then he had to go be a senator and try to take care of some war things." Neither Watts nor Blitzer informed viewers that McCain has missed more votes than any other senator so far in 2007 -- excluding Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who suffered a brain hemorrhage in December and has not yet returned to the Senate -- or that McCain has missed a number of votes pertaining to the war in Iraq.

According to the U.S. Congress Votes Database on WashingtonPost.com, as of May 3, McCain has missed 63 of 150 votes in the 110th Congress, or 42 percent. By contrast, the two Democratic frontrunners, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (IL), have missed three and seven Senate votes, respectively. Furthermore, McCain has missed all 21 Senate votes since April 16, including the April 26 vote on the Iraq war supplemental funding bill conference report, which set a timetable for the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq, a measure McCain staunchly opposes.

Several media outlets have taken note of the trend. In an April 27 article on the Senate vote that passed the conference report for the Iraq war funding bill, the Los Angeles Times reported: "This is the fourth major Iraq-related vote missed by McCain, a presidential candidate who has been a leading champion of the president's current Iraq policy." Further, an April 26 post on the Capitol Briefing blog on WashingtonPost.com -- titled, "McCain: Most absentee '08 Senator" -- reported: "McCain also continues to miss many critical votes on Iraq, the issue that he has previously said would be so critical to his own campaign." The blog linked to a March 16 Capitol Briefing post noting that "McCain is the only declared presidential candidate to miss any of the Senate's Iraq votes, according to Capitol Briefing's analysis of Senate votes. The other five senators running for the White House -- Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), and Barrack [sic] Obama (D-Ill.) -- have been on hand for all seven votes." The March 16 post further stated, "During the past six weeks, the Senate has cast seven votes dealing with how President Bush should proceed in the now four-year-old war. And McCain has missed five of them, bypassing what he calls 'meaningless' procedural votes in favor of campaign stops in his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination."

Among the Iraq-related Senate votes McCain has missed this year:

  • April 26 -- H.R. 1591 Conference Report; U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007
  • March 15 -- S. J. Res. 9; a joint resolution to revise United States policy on Iraq
  • February 17 -- Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S.574; a bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq
  • February 5 -- Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 470; a bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the May 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: In today's "Strategy Session," two presidential candidates who have been trailing in some polls are seeing some new heads of steam. Also, how should Congress respond now that the president has vetoed that war spending bill? Joining us now, two CNN political analysts. Donna Brazile is a Democratic strategist. J.C. Watts is a former congressman from Okalahoma.

J.C., let me start with you. And look at this American Research poll on the Republican side. John McCain, in three states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- all of a sudden, in Iowa, he's ahead over Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Look at this, in New Hampshire, 29 percent to Giuliani's 17 percent, Mitt Romney with 24. And, in South Carolina, McCain has 36 percent to Giuliani's 23, Mitt Romney down at 6 percent.

Is it fair to say he's the comeback kid, John McCain?

WATTS: No, I don't think he's come back. I think John McCain; this is where I would have anticipated that he would have been at this time of the season. You know, John reported about $12.5 million raised in the first quarter; $11 million of that was raised in a month. And then he had to go be a senator and try to take care of some war things.

Now, John -- the race is given neither to the swift, nor to the strong, but to those that will endure. And I think John McCain is positioned best to endure the campaign over the next 12 months.

BLITZER: It's interesting. In the national polls, when you ask -- forget about the states -- Giuliani still comes out on top. But, in these critical three early states, Donna, McCain is really, really doing well.

J.C. Watts
The Situation Room
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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