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McCain Absent for Vote on Woodstock Earmark

John McCain wasn't at Woodstock, nor was he on hand in the Senate last week to help kill the $1 million earmark that Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted for a museum honoring the 1969 music festival.

The Arizona senator's presidential campaign has been making political hay over earmark, hammering Clinton for cosponsoring an effort to celebrate one of the crowning events of the 1960s counter-culture.

McCain, after hailing the Senate's Oct. 18 vote to kill the earmark during last Sunday night's GOP presidential debate, today launched an ad titled "Woodstock," using the earmark as a way to attack Clinton's "priorities."

Here's the script for the ad:

"It was a cultural event that defined a generation. Worthy of fond memories. But worthy of a million of your tax dollars to build a museum? $ 1 million tax dollars for a Woodstock museum? Hillary Clinton thinks so. John McCain disagrees.
"He's been cutting wasteful spending for more than 20 years. That's why Citizens Against Government Waste calls John McCain a Taxpayer Hero. It's a matter of priorities. John McCain says if you want to relive Woodstock ... buy the record."

It's worth noting that McCain was not the "taxpayer hero" for fiscal conservatives; that distinction, on this issue, belongs to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who offered the amendment to kill the Woodstock money.

Nor did McCain consider it enough of a priority to be on hand on the 18th to cast a vote against the earmark. The money for the Woodstock museum fell through when 52 senators opposed it, including five Democrats; only 42 votes were cast for earmark.

McCain was one of four presidential contenders who skipped the vote, along with Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Even though he wasn't on hand for the vote, McCain did manage to issue a statement that day condemning the earmark, calling it "a shining example of what's wrong with Washington on pork-barrel, out-of-control spending."

This particular vote was also another shining example of how the senators-turned-presidential contenders have largely abandoned the chamber this fall.

In the past week, for example, McCain missed 14 out of 16 votes held in the chamber, a few of which were offered by conservative colleagues trying to strip earmarks from the federal spending bills.

For the year, McCain has missed 52 percent of all Senate roll calls, the most of any of the presidential candidates. Others are also missing a soaring number of votes. While Clinton was on hand to vote in favor of the Woodstock money, she's now missed more than 16 percent of all votes this year. For the month of October, Clinton has been on hand for just six of the 38 votes held in the Senate.

Aside from Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who spent most of 2007 recuperating from emergency brain surgery, the top six most absentee senators are all presidential candidates.

McCain's campaign said there was nothing wrong with missing the vote on Woodstock, since there was never "any doubt" how he would have voted. "John McCain has spent his entire congressional career crusading against wasteful, pork barrel spending. His record speaks for itself," campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told Capitol Briefing.

Hazelbaker also noted that McCain cancelled events in New Hampshire this week to fly back to Washington for the vote on the judicial nomination of Leslie Southwick, who was confirmed after a close vote killed off a Democratic filibuster.

McCain's policy is, she said, "to be present when his vote would affect the outcome of the legislation."

By Paul Kane  |  October 26, 2007; 6:59 PM ET
Categories:  Purse Strings , Senate  
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Oh I got news for you as AZ GOP Senator and
Republican Presidential Wannabe Amnesty John McCain is going to have all his Illegal Alien Pals mad at him, when they
find out Amnesty John McCain was AWOL and
MIA on the vote on the Dream Act too! I will not vote for McCain for dogcatcher of
a one dog town in Arizona, and I don't
trust Bush Lite. Iam an Independent Voter
living in Arizona so I know what a phony and fruad and liar Amnesty John McCain is!

Posted by: Claudine | October 27, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

If a vote for a Military museum came up all those anti Woodstock voters would be stepping all over each other to cast their "Ayes" but for a symbol of peace and cooperation NO!

Posted by: Martin Goebel | October 27, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A big deal about nothing. McCain campain said it right.

"Be present when his vote would affect the outcome of the legislation." For someone running for president, I think it is just as important to be out there participating in debates and spreading your message. Most votes on issues are merely proceedural occurances anyway because the outcome is known.

Posted by: Paul S. | October 28, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I think we all know what John McCain thinks about the Woodstock vote.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 29, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

If you can't be bothered to vote, then you give up the right to complain about the outcome of the vote -- and that goes for everyone -- citizens to senators.

Posted by: Carol, Long Valley | October 29, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

McCain/Feingold is a disaster, as was predicted (note oodles of dough being spent in New Hamshire) but members of congress running for president and missing votes is a disgrace. We pay good money for these clowns who spit in our face time and time again on bad legislation now we hear they do not bother to come to work. The arrogance is staggering to this voter.
I propose a law that calls for disciplinary action in the case of any congressman who misses more than 3 votes in any given session. Or at least docked for time not on the countrys business which includes running for higher office. This is getting rediculous. Thank you very much Sens Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, MccainTancredo,Hunter and anyone else I may have missed. And this nonsense; "everyone knows how I would have voted"is a non-starter for me. And whats with this; "I vote when my vote means something. Hey! Most votes mean nothing as it stands normally, let alone during the campaign season.

Posted by: Bob Sullivan | October 31, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Could one of those five yellow dog Dems be Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: TMorgan | November 1, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

You are correct, Frank Kane, John McCain was not at Woodstock. I believe that particular weekend he was having the crap beat out himself for the umpteenth time at the Hanoi Hilton.

You may be that uncaring of how your work distorts rather than enlightens, however I suspect you are just simple.

Posted by: mike woodard | November 12, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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