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Will McCain Quit the Senate?

On May 15, 1996, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole announced he was resigning from the chamber in order to focus on a presidential campaign that seemed to be slipping away from him.

"My time to leave this office has come," he said, "and I will seek the presidency with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people and nowhere to go but the White House or home."

The move didn't do the trick for the Kansas Republican, who lost decisively to President Bill Clinton that November. But while it may not have worked for Dole, that precedent has prompted reporters and other observers to ask whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- who praised Dole's decision at the time -- will follow the same playbook.

Answers to that question from McCain and his staff have been mixed.

"I can confidently say he is not planning to resign," Melissa Shuffield, McCain's Senate spokeswoman, told Capitol Briefing today.

Of course, "planning" is in the present tense, and there is no reason why Shuffield can or should be more definitive on the subject. Dole wasn't planning to resign in February 1996, either.

Asked the same question in a conference call with political bloggers on Feb. 13, McCain said:

"Look, if I have the nomination, then we will decide whether I would remain in the Senate until after I'm elected president, if I'm elected president, or not. And the time to begin that process of thinking is after I have the nomination of the party. But right now, I have no inclination to leave the United States Senate early. So that's my position at this time. But ... if and when I win the nomination, I will then make that decision. But, right now, it is my intention to remain in the United States Senate."

The current round of speculation on this subject got started back on Feb. 11, when Arizona Rep. John Shadegg (R) made the surprising announcement that he would not run for re-election to his House seat. Shadegg -- a McCain ally -- made clear in the ensuing days that he did not believe his political career was over, and his desire to run for higher office is well-known.

If McCain wins the presidency in November, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) will appoint someone to fill McCain's seat until the 2010 election. Under state law, the appointee must be of the same party as the seat's previous occupant. But while Napolitano -- who is said to be interested in running for the Senate herself in 2010 -- must appoint a Republican, there's no reason to think she would appoint Shadegg just because he may want the job.

So Shadegg could be hoping McCain wins and he (Shadegg) gets the appointment to fill the vacancy. Or Shadegg could be planning to run in 2010 even if he doesn't get the appointment. Or Shadegg could be hoping to run for Senate anyway in 2010 if McCain loses this year, since the seat will be up then and it's hard to imagine that McCain would run for another Senate term at that point.

But if McCain resigns this year, several months before Election Day, the person appointed to fill the vacancy would only serve until the "next general election," which would be Nov. 4, 2008, when a contest to succeed McCain could be on the regular ballot. Shadegg could jump immediately into that race, and as of Dec. 31 he had $864,000 sitting in his House campaign account that he could use to jump-start a Senate bid.

Making the story more complicated, 145 of Shadegg's fellow House Republicans signed a letter to him last week asking him to reconsider his decision to retire from the chamber. Shadegg spokewoman Abby Winter said Monday that her boss "spent the weekend with his family" discussing his future plans, as "he felt it was his obligation" to the signatories of the letter to take their request seriously.

Of course, McCain won't make a decision about whether to quit the Senate just to fit Shadegg's hopes or plans. When Dole resigned in 1996, he was Senate Majority Leader, so his frequent absence from the chamber was a bigger story than McCain's numerous missed votes have been so far. And Senate Democrats at the time made clear that they would tie up the chamber in order to prevent Dole from scoring any legislative victories that might help his campaign.

Dole was also behind in the polls and needed a boost; McCain seems to be doing just fine right now as he waits for a Democratic nominee to emerge.

And while Dole decided to quit, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) didn't resign during his 2004 campaign, nor did Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) when he was on the Democratic ticket in 2000.

Whichever Democrat wins this year's nomination -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) or Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) -- will likely face the same question about resigning. But they're both younger than the 71-year-old McCain -- Obama is 46, Clinton is 60 - so they could both spend several more years in the Senate and possibly even run for president again down the line, whereas this election appears likely to be McCain's last hurrah (unless he wins the White House and runs for re-election in 2012).

The bottom line for McCain is that being in the Senate isn't hurting his campaign right now, and quitting wouldn't necessarily help him. If that equation changes between now and November, then he may decide, like Dole, to give himself "nowhere to go but the White House or home."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 19, 2008; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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Interesting speculation for a Primary Tuesday. My guess is that he stays in and if not elected, completes his last term in the Senate.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | February 19, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

McCain ought not to worry about that. When I talk to other Clinton supporters, otherwise faithful Democrats, I find ourselves determined to get him into the White House. It is the only way we can protest against the cowardly betrayal of Hillary by the Media and some in the Democratic Party. We were prepared to see Hillary lose when the race started. But to see her so blatantly victimized by one and every one - no, it's unbearable. To see her publicly raped and humiliated by the Media and her compatriots in the Democratic establishment has been totally disillusioning. The Democrats joined hands with Republicans to tear down Hillary. They ought to understand when us Hillary supporters join hands with Republicans to tear down Obama. I remember staying up until early morning to joyfully watch McCaskill, Tester, and Webb pull of dramatic victories to win the Senate. One of the outstanding events of 2007. I realize today how naive and foolish I was. No, Obama supporters, we are the naive ones here. Oh, boy, now, Democrats in Senate/Congress are unbearable to me. They must be defeated! Eventually they will be.

Posted by: AM | February 19, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry all us free thinking non monarchy types tore down Hillary's chances with our evil growing of the Dem party's base.

It used to be such a clear distinction: Republicans do dirty tricks, look out for corporate interests, and the Dems protect labor.

Labor supports Obama, business supports Clinton.

People support Obama. It must be the media, not anyone's HUGE reluctance to extend the Bush Clinton run on principal alone!

Posted by: DROSEN | February 19, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Calm down AM, it looks like you're about to pop a vein or something.

Posted by: o. v. wong | February 19, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

DROSEN - Actually, labor support has been split in the Dem. primary. Appropriate given how evenly divided the votes have been. [Yes, Obama's on a roll. Some of that is simply a favorable calendar between Super Tuesday and March 4.]


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | February 19, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Dole's resignation was unproductive for him; stepping down as Majority Leader would have been enough. McCain should keep his position in the Senate.

Reading one of the posts upthread, I'm reminded that Roosevelt was called a traitor to his class, Truman a Communist dupe, Johnson a baby-killer, Nixon a warmonger, Ford a dunce. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Ford, and Reagan had actual attempts made on their lives.

I think some fans of Mrs. Clinton, who very frankly has had her life handed to her on a plate by comparison, would do well to reflect on this -- and to take some toughen-up pills.

Posted by: Zathras | February 19, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Is it me, or does John McCain look increasingly more like the old guy that married Anna Nicole Smith every day?

My friends, I am not aging well.

Posted by: steve boyington | February 19, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I fully support AM comments above. The media is biased against Hillary and have given Obama a free ride. I am a loyal democrat and have never voted Republican before, but if Obama is the nominee, I'll be voting for McCain.

Posted by: MM | February 19, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow MM, your perception of the media bias against Clinton would cause you to vote for at least four more years of Bush/Republican-style rule?
Your loyalties sure do seem misplaced.

Posted by: elmerg | February 19, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It really sounds like there are people getting paid by the campaigns to post here, I can only wonder how many votes anyone is going to change in this manner.

Lotta people going to hold their breath until they turn blue and vote for X if Y doesn't get nicer treatment. Ann Coulter says (s)he's voting for Hillary.

What a load.

But I agree with steveboyington ... McCain looks and sounds OLD. Not mature and experienced, but fuzzy and elderly. And in his megalomania to be The Commander he is pushing himself so hard he probably won't even make it to the election.

Posted by: Chris Fox | February 19, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

To MM and AM:

You call yourself loyal Dems, yet you suggest you will vote for McCain? I find this hard to believe. It suggests to me that either you are so partisan for your candidate that you're blind to the party or that you just dislike everyone who disagrees with your position enough to poison the process. Either way, I feel sad for you both. You may be turned off by the way that Clinton's been portrayed. I've been dismayed by some of the Obama coverage as well. But in the end, we need a Democrat, regardless of who it is, in the WH. If you don't understand that, you really aren't loyal Dems.

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Why would McCain resign? He's missed 55% of Senate votes as it is, so it's not like anything would change through the election season.

Actually, McCain could still remain Senator and President if he were elected and I'm sure that wouldn't give a scheduling conflict. If he takes vacation as President as much as he does in the Senate and misses 55% of work while in the White House while still missing 55% of his Senate votes, only 90% of his actual time will be occupied between the White House and the Senate. He'll still have 10% of his time to sit and do absolutely nothing! Sounds like a great candidate for the White House to me...

Posted by: thecrisis | February 19, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe any right-thinking Democrat would vote Republican just to spite a primary victor. That's just ridiculous. I think you people are Republican trolls pretending to be Democrats, especially given the confused grammar in AM's message (referring to her/himself and Obama supporters under the pronoun "we" while simultaneously claiming to be a Hillary supporter in the rest of his/her message). Disturbing.

Posted by: Al | February 19, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. I agree that the media is biased against Hillary and has given Obama a free ride, but that's not Obama's fault. I voted for Hillary but the argument against her that gives me pause is that she is too much like a Republican -- that there are too few differences between her and John McCain. Well, I've resisted that argument, but this discussion makes me believe that it must really be true. If "loyal Democrats" are as comfortable voting for McCain as they are Clinton, there can't be too many compelling differences.

Posted by: trt2539 | February 19, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

MM, you're just like all of the Democrats that said they'll move to Canada if Bush is elected for a second term, back in 2004. Guess what? None of them really moved.

I should know, I'm one of them, and I still live in Idaho.

The difference is that I learn from my naivety, whereas you continue to blabber about how extreme of an action you'll take if your precious smear-mongerer isn't nominated.

Do us a favor and zip it.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 19, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Do any of you Clinton supporters understand that if elected, the dynamic in this country will simply be flipped? Now 60 % of the citizens of this country dislike our current president. When she's elected, a like number of people will automatically dislike her. I, for one, am tired of this political dynamic. At least 40 % of the people in this country will NEVER give Hillary Clinton a chance to be an effective president, for good or ill. It's a sad, unfortunate fact. But it's why I can't bring myself to support her. It's not her fault, but as president, she has little opportunity to unify this country.

Posted by: JohnD in Houston | February 19, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Nice sock-puppetry AM (or MM, or whoever you are), but your fraudulent handles can't hide your poor logic:

:The media "raped" Hillary, therefore i must vote for McCain.

And if you think that a hard-scrabble primary is "victimizing" Hillary, then she doesn't have the ovaries to finish the job. Don't sell your candidate short, but don't complain when more Democrats find Barack more appealing.

But this way, at least, Hillary can go back to the Senate and sponsor another amendment to ban flag burning. (Oooh, raped!)

Posted by: ape dersen | February 19, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

To MM and AM:

You call yourself loyal Dems, yet you suggest you will vote for McCain? I find this hard to believe. It suggests to me that either you are so partisan for your candidate that you're blind to the party or that you just dislike everyone who disagrees with your position enough to poison the process. Either way, I feel sad for you both. You may be turned off by the way that Clinton's been portrayed. I've been dismayed by some of the Obama coverage as well. But in the end, we need a Democrat, regardless of who it is, in the WH. If you don't understand that, you really aren't loyal Dems.

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 04:26 PM
I agree. I think that these so-called democrats are not democrats at all, just republican partisan hacks who come here to stir up trouble. I have not met one Democratic voter who would support McCain over Senator Obama or Senator Clinton.I think that is all that is left to these hacks - God knows that the GOP has run out of substantive ideas that do not have Bush's prints all over them. MM and AM, I hope McCain and the GOP appreciates your efforts on their behalf and saves you some good appetizers at the next exciting campaign rally. Cheer loudly so we can hear you.

Posted by: LABC | February 19, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama has NOT been given a free ride. All that has been in the news over the past few days has been "Clinton says Obama did this..." and "Clinton says Obama did that..." with Obama's defense buried somewhere in the fifth paragraph of the story.

Clinton has screwed up her campaign royally, firing her managers, loaning herself money, sicking slick Willie on Obama like a junkyard attack dog, changing her message every few days, referring to Obama's wins as "expected," overlooking all of the Democrats who vote for anyone but her, lying in her campaign ads and strategically crying at key points in the campaign cycle to manipulate her female voters into feeling bad for her when they go to the polls.

Obama has run a flawless campaign, short of a few slips here and there, and continues to take responsibility for his words and not try to continually deflect everything as if he's never done anything wrong in his life.

Clinton refuses to take responsibility for her mistakes, always blaming polls, the media, blacks, rich people, the caucus format, his endorsements and demographics for all of her cataclysmic losses. When are you going to run out of things to blame, Ms. Clinton? You have no one to blame but yourself for all of your sloppy campaign mistakes and you're going to feel the pinch when voters continue to pummel you at the polls.

Posted by: thecrisis | February 19, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: MM | February 19, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully he will resign from the Senate and get defeated in the Election and move to Mexico. This Nation will be better rid of that ill tempered old senile man that has been trading on his bad luck in getting captured for 35 years. The men is a Moron on the scale of Jr. Bush. It tough being a Republican these days Nay it tough being an American when all our we have to chose from are Bad and Worse!

Posted by: Bl | February 19, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I rather not vote at all than vote for Obama, I cant bring myself to vote for someone who has no experience. he has barely been in the senate for a year, two years and this qualifies him to being president. And the crap he said about his foriegn policy experience, that living in indonesia qualifies him in that area. Hell that means my traveling to 30 countries in the 22 years that ive been alive makes me more qualified than he is.

Posted by: ml | February 19, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Most democrats will vote for Obama except white males and older women. McCain will get their vote. I didn't think the Democrats could lose this election but nominating a very liberal black man with no experience just might do it. The last known democrat to become President was a moderate and ran as such. Obama looks very good to liberals but it is hard to see him attracting many independents away from McCain. The attacks on Obama will paint him a liberal and his only defense is to defend liberalism. That's not an easy sell to a moderate electorate. But that is why he is the Democratic nominee and he is by far the best political orator I have ever heard. He beat the Clinton's because he was able to galvanize the Clinton haters. He is also a brilliant political strategist and that counts for a lot.

At the end of all this someone has to win and Obama has a shot. That's pretty good for a country that when I was growing up had separate restrooms for blacks and whites, and not just in the South.

Posted by: Pat Greene | February 19, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

There are three Senators running this season, why is this article only slanted towards McCain? In fact, Hillbillary has missed more votes than McCain and it's likely Obama has also.

Oh right - it's the media spin.

Posted by: bandmom22 | February 19, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Umm actually if you did your research you would notice that hillary missed the least amount of votes of all three of them, but i guess your too busy using moronic terms like "hillbillary".

Posted by: ml | February 19, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

McCain should quit the Senate. While his Senate duties may not be affecting his presidential campaign, it IS affecting the supposed representation that Arizona citizens should be receiving. It's very unfair for ANY Senator to continue receiving pay as a Senator when they are not there to do their duty.

Yet another problem with our system.

Posted by: BP | February 19, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Why exactly is McCain described as more of the same as Bush when it is Clinton and Obama that say they will continue to make signing statements and McCain is the one that thinks he is running for President instead of dictator?

I'm not trying to say that I see some clear distinction between these three candidates, because I don't, but why exactly doesn't everyone act as if the party affiliation of the candidates even matters a whit. It's the positions the candidates take that matters. And the positions of all three front runners seem quite similar indeed. Running mates sound like the biggest factor at this point, and you don't get to vote on running mates in a primary.

Posted by: blah blah blah | February 19, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

experience, what does that mean? there is an expression, that there is no fool like an old fool. so, i ask, what was the experience that the current president had in foreign relations? what was the experience ronald regan had in foreign relations? on the other hand, george the first, had lots of foreign experience, and look at the disaster that was.
i am sure that alexander the great had lots of experience before he conquered the world at 33.
experience seems code for "he's not one of us." how pathetic that we want more of the same: loss of american jobs, declining value of the dollar, inflation, endless war, no universal health care, tax breaks for the megamillionaires with crushing tax burdens for the middle class, national education system in disorder, national military undersupplied, national hope swamped in a sea of anti-depressant drugs. wow, i think i want more that experience.
no matter who the president is, the nation will survive (look at us now!). but, the issue remains what do we want our future to look like? where is the aspiration for better? mccain sells fear. clinton sells "experience." obama sells "hope." imagine the each of them in colonial america: mccai--stick with the king, the french and indians will get us if we don't; clinton--time for a new dialogue with england, i've been talking to england for years; obama--we have to believe in ourselves and in something better. maybe it is words and maybe the words are borrowed, but nevertheless, we have to articulate our dreams before we can achieve them. and if they are the same dreams that others share, it is not for lack of originality but because those dreams are still to be achieved.

Posted by: potrero pundit | February 19, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

First off... to the so called Dems claiming they would vote for McCain... you need to take a long look in the mirror and decide wether or not you are TRUE DEMOCRATS, you're not if you would vote republican. Next, tearing down Hillary, thats uncalled for. I believe Hillary would make a wonderful president. The Clintons were here for us once before cleaning up the mess a Bush made and I strongly believe we need a Clinton in office to do the job again. Now I am not going to talk down Obama, I think he has wonderful ideas and I think he would make a GREAT President, in 8 years. Give him some time to get more experience and when the next Democratic elections come along I would be more than willing to vote Obama, but for right now I am for Clinton all the way. Let her fix our country get the US back on track once again and then let Obama in to keep the ball rolling.

Posted by: Reality Check | February 19, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The way that the HC and BO supporters go after each other you might imagine that something important was at stake like being picked to play in the college football championship. Yes, there appear to be a lot of tender souls in our electronic neighborhood.

Posted by: David Fahey | February 19, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the media hitting on McCain. He is starting to look more like Bush every day.Any Democrat would look better than a tired old man who has ridden his POW experience into the ground. Before the uproar begins. I am also an EX POW.

Posted by: William Reulbach | February 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The person hysterically ranting about Hillary might be pulling our collective legs. No real Democrat, including Hillary herself, would advocate voting for McCain over Obama. Hillary destroyed herself with her lies, libels, and refusal to apologize for her vote to kill our kids in Iraq. People just flat out realized that she is not a very good or nice human being. Blaming the media sounds more like the usual Republican cop-out.

Posted by: royhobbs | February 19, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Pat Greene - your analysis about the general election is off, I think. Obama stands the best chance to get elected against McCain, precisely becuase he will pull independents who might otherwise go for McCain. If you look at the statistics of the primaries that Obama has won, he does best in those where the primary is open, like in Virginia. What happens in those states is that the independents all come out and vote for him. His victory in MD was by a smaller margin only because they have a closed primary, so not as many independents were able to vote.

Clinton has a serious handicap here. Let me preface by saying I like her, but the reality is that against McCain, she loses. There are too many irrational anti-Clinton people out there, and most of them are the GOPer's who would otherwise stay at home than vote for McCain, becuase he's a traitor to the GOP cause. However, if Clinton's on the ticket, all those evangelicals come out in droves to vote against Clinton (and for McCain), and the independents vote for McCain because they like him. Worse, there are a lot of Democrats who are in the anti-Clinton camp, and will stay home if she's the candidate. By my calculus, then, Clinton loses in a general against McCain while Obama wins. This analysis, by the way, is borne out by numerous polls.

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

So maybe I'm not a "true democrat" since I prefer positions on issues over what moniker someone gives themselves.

If Obama or Clinton wants my vote, all either has to do is appeal to me through positions. And a desire to write all over bills makes me worry about what else they will do, and wonder what power they think they are running. McCain seems to want to be President, and I'm sure I don't agree with him on much, but I wonder if I really agree with Clinton or Obama on much either. I'm not going to say who I'd vote for in November, because that would strongly depend on the running mate.

I don't see why I can't desire a law abiding President over a President that claims to belong to the same party as me. My first preference is for a candidate that will stand up and ask that every vote be counted. Bush, Gore, and Kerry all failed on that count, and I don't want to vote for someone that doesn't want votes to be counted.

Since Kerry lied about it last time, I have to look for evidence to support promises this time, for instance, how much does the candidate support the rule of laws and the constitution over just getting along. I want a President that will defend the country, not one that will give it away to someone other than the governed.

But go ahead and trash me rather than convincing me. I'm sure you'll be happy to blame me rather than having an impact on the election.

Just because someone acts like calling themselves a democrat will get them power doesn't mean that I should pander to their request for power. I want to see principles. McCain seems to show some, even if I don't agree with them.

Posted by: blah blah blah | February 19, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

John McCain suffers from PTSD. He still feels incredibly betrayed because we gave up on that disaster. Iraq and the Middle East are his chance to resolve his trauma, or so he thinks. Is this who you want to be president? Someone who wants us to stay 100 years there if necessary. Meanwhile our education system,ourinfrastructure,our reputation around the world, and our economy turn to crap.Oh and the effect on the Iraqis.

Posted by: JC | February 19, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Not sure how I ended up on this page, but the comments have been interesting.

I have to say that I consider myself to be a loyal Democrat. I have never voted for a Republican (which is difficult in Texas - if they are running unopposed, then I just skip that selection). However, I do not believe that I will vote for Obama if he is the nominee. He speaks well, but lacks substance. I only hear hope and change. I can hear plenty about hope at church, or change at work.

Pat is correct, I am a white male. I am also gay, which the last time I checked was another part of the Democrat base. I like Hillary because I think she is the only one that clean up W's mess. Obama would be another Carter (nice guy that will accomplish more after his one and only term).

If it's McCain....I sure hope he picks a good VP, just in case. He is quite up there in years. I am sure if Obama and McCain are the choices, then I will just have to skip that selection as well.

Posted by: ScottinTX | February 19, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, blah, blah, blah, here goes.

You want someone who understands the constitution and will protect it? That's Obama. He taught constitutional law - equal protection (14th amendment) at a top 10 law school. He obviously knows the document. McCain doesn't seem to get even the most basic concept of the Constitution - only Congress has the power to declare war.

I'm not sure where you get your signing statement material, but I'm not sure that McCain would repudiate it after the precedent Bush has set. Why would he? He wants more executive power so he can bomb Iran and invade it. Less executive power would make that infinitely more difficult.

What positions are you interested in learning about? I highly recommend you inform yourself, rather than let others do it for you. Check out everyone's websites -,, and for more information on each candidates' positions. I would imagine that after you look at their positions, you won't find much difference between Barack and Hillary, but a world of difference in McCain and either Democrat. McCain has caved in to the religious right on social issues lately in an attempt to pander to them for their votes. If you want less government interference in the bedroom, among other places, McCain isn't your man.

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm an independent, and if Obama is the nominee, I'll vote for McCain. I honestly don't know what I'll do if Clinton is the nominee. It'll probably depend on who the VP choices are, given McCain's age. It may also depend on the probability that Clinton dumps Mr. Clinton around Jan. 19, 2009 if she's elected.

Posted by: Edmund | February 19, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Did you ever notice that usually in a blog like this, the most provocative comment, the one that draws the most response (like that of AM here), is the first comment posted. Maybe I'm cynical, but I've often thought that that first provocative comment is posted by the blogger him or herself, just to get some controversy going and draw some responses. After all, it would be pretty embarrassing if you post a blog and NOBODY responds.

As for the experience argument about Obama, it's somewhat specious. John Adams, his son, Herbert Hoover, Nixon and Bush 41 all had had loads of experience and very impressive resumes and turned out to be mediocre Presidents at best. On the other hand, Lincoln had one undistinguished term in the house and a losing senate campaign on his resume and he turned out to be a pretty good President, don't you think? And the punditry opinion of FDR when he ran in '32 was that he was a "lightweight," with one 15 year old stint as Undersecretary of the Navy and one undistinguished term as NY Governor. So I'm not convinced that experience is all that good a guide as to possible or probable Oval Office performance. After all, there is no other job quite like the Presidency of the US, not even the Vice Presidency, and so no way to be really prepared. Some like Truman rise up to it, some (actually, most, looking at our history) like W. fall under it and nobody can tell in advance.

Posted by: Fred | February 19, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama in VA's open primary because I know McCain can take him. Hillary would give McCain a run for the money. If Obama is the Dem nominee, McCain wins. Its that simple.

Posted by: WmJLePetomane | February 19, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I can vote for either Clinton or Obama and be happy as a clam, however only Hillary can annoy and irritate the people I want to annoy and irritate. I've suffered for seven long years, now it's their turn.

Posted by: Bert Chadick | February 19, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

no loyal democrat will vote for mc cain

babies who spew utlimatums will vote for mc cain but loyal democrats will vote for the democratic nominee

do you really think that anyone here is ging to change their vote because you have a hissy if your candidate doesn't win

i personally do not like obama but will vote for him to support my party

after this election, no matter who wins i am changing to independent because i really don't like the way either campaign is being run

i just like the republicans less

at least we clinton supporters know that the dems need to take back the white house and we are willing to put our egos aside to accomplish a common goal

obama posters here just spew hate and don't accomplish anything except to make obama look bad, and i might had your doing a heck of a job

so please obamamintes - leave the party - your like trailer park trash and you are embarassing

the republicans are not acting like this on their posts

this was about mc cain - not obama

Posted by: lndlouis | February 19, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I have an Idea!
Why not require these people to resign BEFORE they run for another office. Are Hillery and Obama representing themselves or the people who elected them.

Are John McCain or Ron Paul taking a salary to campain or to represent a state and a district?

And could you be out of your job for nine tenths of the day due to the fact that your looking for another job?

Change the system. Vote non-incumbent for everything!

Posted by: Joe | February 19, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Go Hilldog!!!

Posted by: Troy | February 19, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I am a registered Dem and see absolutely no difference between Hillary and John McCain. Hillary's refusal to accept responsibility for her Iraq war vote and her ambiguous position on it are unforgivable.

If Obama doesn't get the nomination I will not vote for President.

Posted by: Robert | February 19, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Will McCain quit the Senate? Will Hilary supporters vote for McCain? Is McCain just too old? Will 40% of America give Hillary no chance to be effective because she is a Clinton? Will that same 40% give Obama a chance to be effective? My answer to all these questions is no, no, no, no, and no. I like Obama, but if he is elected our President, he is going to have the toughest time getting anything done since John F. Kennedy, and the Congress will make him eat every word from every speech he has made. The last one Congress is going to embrace is the new kid on the block that embarrased his peers on his quick ride to the top.

Posted by: Tony | February 19, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or does McCain remind anyone else of Mr. Burns on The Simpsons?
McCain seems to encompass the smug, contemptuous and ill-at-ease attitude that had prevailed within the U.S. this past seven years. Want a fresh start? Don't elect old geezers!

Posted by: Sapa | February 19, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time that I have responded to the Capital Briefing. I do not subscribe to the philosophy that if you are a "True Democrat", you will support whoever is the Party's nominee. This sounds very much like the argument of an earlier generation "My country-love it or leave it" vs "My country-change it or lose it." Needless to say, I am of the second opinion. I live in California, am a registered Democrat, and have highly divergent feelings of our two Senators, have voted for the incumbent Governor, against the current President....and have felt that I was voting for the better person each time. I have also voted for third party candidates for major offices in the past, and still consider myself more of the Democratic principles than anything else. But there are times when I feel that one must follow his/her personal beliefs as to what is best for the country. Each of the three likely remaining candidates has some strengths and some weaknesses. In my estimation, two of the three have visions, and only one of the three have what I would deem appropriate experience. All have histories, not entirely clean. The amount of vitriol shown by one of the candidates is more than a little off-putting to me. In the end, whom I vote for in November will depend upon who the candidates are, who is the choice of running mate, what are his/her visions for the future, and what the current political, social and economic environment is. And political party label be damned.

Posted by: ricroc | February 19, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Go Hilldog! Woof Woof!!

Posted by: Matt | February 19, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

So many people claim Obama has a lack of experience, especially those who think Bill Clinton was a great president.

How much foreign experience did Bill have? National experience?


Do we really want more of the same? How about accepting that inspiring Americans is where we need to go...

Unless you think it is better that only people who think like you are in charge...

United we stand...Divided we fall...and this is not a party slogan...this is a reality the United States needs to embrace. I look forward to working with ALL people to create solutions to the issues we face.

Posted by: GC | February 19, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Boo Hoo, Hilary has been treated so badly by the media boo hoo. Get a freakin grip on reality, you want to talk about bad treatment by media check out Ron Paul and his complete blackout. As a registered Republican I feel the same as AM and MM and will be casting my vote to Obama. Geez, McCain was broke and polled very low and with the medias help soared to the top. Now keep this in mind, his largest contributor base is from media employees. Ron Paul's largest contributor base you may ask? The answer is our armed forces. So you have Hilary people voting for McCain and RP people voting for Obama. How whacked is our system?

Posted by: Josh | February 19, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

A year ago this past November, Sen Clinton was re-elected to serve the citizens of NY State. She told them straight out on many occasions that she wasn't even thinking about running for president.

Raise your hands: how many think she was telling the truth?

Who can answer this question: how much time does she spend meeting with her constituents?

Clinton lied to get re-elected to the senate. She's lied to get nominated and if she is nominated, she will lie to get elected.

So why is McCain being asked to resign the senate to run for president?

Posted by: thuff7 | February 19, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Tough choice not only for McCain but for Hillary and Obama. Right now, I'd be pleased if the first two resigned.

Posted by: Sturkely H. Randsfogel IV | February 19, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Interesting topic. Actually, it should be mandatory for these hacks to resign when they take on the campaign. They are not representing their constituents while they pander for votes.

If it were mandatory, it would be the Obamas from having to have their campaigns predicated on a lie. Seems to me he pledged to serve out his senate term.

That didn't take long to drop - did it?

Lets fac facts. Clinton abused her position to get free trips to NY to run fro senator. Her whole game plan was not to represent the people of NY - but to abuse the privileges given to her to further her own ambitions.

Posted by: anon | February 19, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Fred,

*I* had that first post (and it was pretty neutral). Sorry for the snit, but hey, it was my first first post. And it was even on topic!

That much having been said, the purity tests are idiotic. My presidential votes have been Mondale (the few, the proud), Dukakis, Perot (youthful indiscretion--well, I am a deficit hawk), Clinton (my one and only time I ever actually voted for the winner), Gore, and Kerry. For those of you who think I'm not a loyal Democrat for voting for Perot, tough. I'm not a loyal Democrat, even if I am a card carrying one.

I have occasionally voted against a Democratic candidate. Susan Engeleiter would have made a far better senator than Herb Kohl. So, I will vote for a moderate Republican. Wish I lived in Maine so that I could help Susan Collins get another term. I'd have voted for Lieberman over Lamont. If some consider me a Democrat-leaning independent, my feelings aren't hurt. Without us, it's Mondale all over again (that blinking blue DC still hurts).


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | February 19, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

To Joe and Anon:

Tell you what. I'll take your comment about pols quitting positions when they run for another one seriously as soon as you agree to quit your job when you start looking for another one. That position didn't seem to do Edwards or Dole any favors, so don't expect it to happen with any regularity.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | February 19, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Interesting Discussion.

Voting history: Dukakis (Only guy in the Army in new of with a Dukakis for Prez pin displayed in public), Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Bush.

I have always been a Dem until Nov when I switched to vote for McCain in the Ca Primary. Basically I cant vote for anyone who wants pull the troops out of Iraq within six months of taking office, so Obama is out. I think Clinton would probably find some way to recant her pledge to pull the troops out "I have some new information, etc". But her total abandonment of good judgment (or honesty) to save her campaign mean I can't vote for her either.

I would actually like to see someone succeed at tackling some of the big tough problems facing our country: Healthcare, Social Security, Border Security/Immigration, Shady Polotics/Earmarks (pork), Terrorism, China, Iran.

Even though I disagree with McCain on a few of his positions, I think he has more of a chance than Obama or Clinton to successfully deal with the issues I stated above. He is the only one running who can get 55% of the republicans and 50% of the democrats to vote for a solution.

Posted by: LA Mike | February 20, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

The Cult of Her Own Personality

To my fellow Democratic Party American's; we have a dark specter crossing the landscape of our Party. Divisive primary politics aside, we have a radical element among our membership. This element is becoming more evident with each and every loss that they rack up, in that they are pulling apart of our Party. This element is showing that the pulling apart, and possible fracturing of our great Party, for what seems to be nothing more then feelings of self-entitlement toward the nomination, is a justifiable cost for their goals and aspirations.

"Senator Obama's words are contradicted by deeds. He said he would -- he pledged to take public financing as now Senator McCain has pledged. He has just reversed that pledge.
--Hillary Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis, CNN Late Edition, Feb. 17. 2008.

Again, I feel it necessary that we examine the true benefit of tying the hands of a possible Republican challenger, in this case Sen. Obama, when it comes to financing a general presidential campaign. Is it a responsible move for a Party member to actively fight against another possible presidential candidate in such a way?

Is it wise for the Party to allow ourselves to enter into a most important election with one arm tied behind our backs? Of course it is not a smart political move, yet this dangerous element in our Party feels it is fair game to attack a fellow Party member on such a matter. And, in a sense, help the opposition's presidential candidate's campaign.

By rejecting public funds, which no major party candidate has done for a general election since public funding for elections was instituted in the 1970's, Sen. Obama will be putting himself at an obvious disadvantage. Not just because Sen. Obama would have to return more money then McCain. Sen. Obama has raised $6.1 million toward the general campaign, compared to the $2.2 million that McCain has raised, but his grassroots fundraising machine is massive and not nearly close to being tapped out. This would be not just poor politics on the part of Sen. Obama, but it would be irresponsible to the Party to do such a thing.

The Democratic Party has a wonderful advantage against the Republican nomination this election year cycle when it comes to funding. A tool, which if not utilized, would be a politically reckless action on the part of a presidential Party candidate.

What we are facing with this dangerous Party element, is a high ranking member of the Party that is willing, and desirous, that we concede such an advantage for what? Is it for a possible underlying feeling of presidential self-entitlement? Is it a campaign's last ditch effort to win? A do or die burn fest? Whatever the reasoning behind such a destructive move on the part of Sen. Clinton, it is nonetheless, a very dangerous ploy for such little possible gain.

Is this the kind of politics that we need in the party, let alone in America? The idea which seems to resonate with the American populace is that we need to move away from the typical day to day operations of our political leaders. We need to have a Party, and a Country, that is truly for the people by the people. Not a country controlled by the minority of its citizenry, or by its far right leaning religious minority, nor even by the money-throwing special interest groups, all of which attempt to circumvent the will and betterment of the majority of Americans. No, this is not the type of Party that we should be. This is not what the Democratic Party is all about.

What we are facing is a path that can take us either into a future, which is based on the belief, and yes hope, that we can do truly wonderful things if we pull together, or a future that concedes we have reached the pinnacle of American greatness, and we must go back to the way it was before these disastrous last 7 years. The idea and belief that America should be governed from the bottom up, and not the top down, is a crossroads sign post which we must use to choose our great nations future.

I, personally, will give the benefit of the doubt, and look to what great things we can hope to do with this belief and faith. The past was good, and we were served well by its purveyors, but it was just that, the past. To whatever future we find ourselves living in is yet to be seen, yet the leader of our Party is clear. The time is now to realize the fact that we have our leader for the campaign to reclaim the Presidency of the United States, and we must show unity and support behind Sen. Obama if we are to succeed. The alternative will be more of the same support for the status quo, which is both detrimental, and unacceptable to the American way of life.

---- Matthew McGovern

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 20, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Obama did say he would accept federal matching funds in a general campaign if the republican nominee were to do the same. Did he make that statement based on principal (The influance of money in polotics has a corrosive effect on peoples faith in our government) or was it just polically expediant to make that pledge.

This question goes to the heart of what concerns folks about Senator Obama. He seems to be making his case based on his own greatness rather than on the principals by which he would govern. 'I don't have to tell you how I would solve the great problems of America, because Washington is full of great solutions' he says 'After I am elected I will tell you what I will do'. 'I am a great leader. You should follow me wherever I chose to lead you. It is unpatriotic to question me about were and how we proceed'.

Indeed, Obama can raise more money than McCain. But if breaks his word regarding one of the few issues he has actually commented, we will have learned a lot about him.

Posted by: LA Mike | February 20, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

If it is between McCain and Obama, I will vote for McCain. I really can't stand Obama. I really don't understand what do people see in him...... another No-Op

Posted by: eyc | February 20, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Why should McCain retire when Clinton and Obama wont? Clinton and Obama couldn't even trot over to the Senate a few days ago to vote on the Protect America Act even though they were both in D.C. campaigning? As a New Yorker, I can't say that I'm too happy about Clinton starting her campaign as soon as the 2006 elections were over instead of doing her job representing NY.

Posted by: Rhudd Draigiau | February 21, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Who bloody cares. Ask the same question of Hillary and Obama. Hillary ran and won her second term in the senate a little over a year ago, while knowing she was going to run for President. If anyone has been dishonest it is her.

Posted by: candyzky | February 22, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for not ignoring me Joe

You said that Obama understands and will protect the constitution. However, the Boston Globe says "Among the presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have said they would issue signing statements if elected. John McCain said he would not"

You say "McCain doesn't seem to get even the most basic concept of the Constitution - only Congress has the power to declare war." but I have zero idea why you say that Mccain doesn't understand that. For all I know we haven't fought a war since WWII, because that's the last time I recall Congress actually declaring war. But the President is commander in chief even when congress doesn't declare war.

You say "I'm not sure where you get your signing statement material, but I'm not sure that McCain would repudiate it after the precedent Bush has set. Why would he?"

Maybe because he doesn't think it's the President's job, unlike Obama and Clinton.

"What positions are you interested in learning about?"

Ideally I'd want to know who plans on picking whom for running mates. But I doubt any candidate would even think of telling me something I'd truly want to know.

And as for checking out websites, how can I tell who is lying? Kerry claimed that he'd makes sure every vote was counted, and I voted for him. Then when some precincts in Ohio reported more votes for Bush than there were registered voters he just wimped out and went back on his promise.

Honesty and respect for the rule of law are prerequisites to me being able to believe someone's campaign marketing. And when Obama and Clinton say they will doodle on top of bills instead of putting on their John Hancock, then it makes me wonder why. And if they want to court my vote they should explain themselves.

The candidates I agree with already dropped out, the ones that are left have to court me. But you seem to be in the land of believing whatever you want to believe.

I think signing statements is one of the worst things Bush has done in his occupancy. And if Obama and Clinton disagree with me that's a big issue if they claim to be change.

And since Obama and Clinton want to make it illegal for people to be poor and have children, then I do think they want to legislate what happens in the bedroom so that money can flow to corporations instead of me making my own decisions about whether sending my money to someone that will never give it back will actually benefit my family.

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