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The Two Johns: How Kerry and McCain Grew Apart

John Kerry and John McCain

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) appear together on NBC's "Meet the Press."

In today's Post, The Fix penned a story that looks at the relationship (or lack thereof) between Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

By all accounts, the two men were close for much of the past two decades -- brought together by their service on a Senate select committee in the early 1990s that looked into the fate of prisoners of war and others missing in action in Vietnam.

They grew so close that Kerry seriously considered offering McCain his vice presidential slot in 2004 -- a dream bipartisan ticket that was widely seen by Democrats as a sure thing to end the Bush presidency.

What happened next is a point of major contention between the two sides.

Kerry allies insist that staffers for McCain leaked word of the discussion to "put McCain in the best possible light," according to one friend of the Massachusetts senator.

McCain stalwarts argue that the Arizona Republican was never going to accept the vice presidential slot and that Kerry had fooled himself into believing it was a possibility. "Kerry convinced himself that he could convince McCain to be on the ticket," said one GOP strategist familiar with the discussions. "When that didn't happen, he took it really personally."

Later that year, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth began running ads attacking Kerry's military service. And, while McCain quickly condemned the ads as "dishonest" and "dishonorable" he forbade Kerry from using his image in rebuttal commercials -- a decision that was widely regarded as insufficient payback for Kerry's aggressive reaction to a whisper campaign about McCain's military credentials during the 2000 campaign.

The relationship went downhill from there -- largely as a result of the two men's divergent paths on future American involvement in the war in Iraq. McCain's entire presidential primary candidacy was premised on the idea that he had pushed for the surge before pushing for the surge was popular; Kerry, on the other hand, grew more and more convinced that there was no military solution in Iraq and that the next president had to focus on how to withdraw the combat forces in the country.

That policy difference has grown even more sharp since McCain became the presidential nominee as Kerry has emerged as Barack Obama's lead attack dog on foreign policy and national security matters.

Kerry described McCain as "unbelievably out of touch" and "confused" after the Republican said, "That's not too important," in response to a question about when U.S. troops might return from Iraq. In late June, when retired Army Col. George "Bud" Day, who was involved in the Swift boat group's effort, was part of a conference call defending McCain's military record, Kerry called on McCain to condemn the remarks and cut ties with Day.

Then, last Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" Kerry went after McCain on Iraq in his most vitriolic terms to date. McCain "has proven that he has been wrong about every judgment he's made about the war," Kerry said, adding: "Wrong about the Iraqis paying for the reconstruction, wrong about whether or not the oil would pay for it, wrong about Sunni and Shia violence through the years, wrong about the willingness of the Iraqis to stand up for themselves."

In short, don't expect McCain to consider Kerry for his vice presidential slot this summer and fall. In fact, given their differences on the war in Iraq (and how deeply held each man's beliefs are on the matter) it seems almost certain they will continue to grow farther apart rather than closer together as the election draws closer.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 9, 2008; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Obama is a con man who cannot be trusted. It has nothing to do with his skin color -- it is his lack of character.

He tries to be all things to all people, and his only goal is his super ambition to be president -- the very sin he accused Hillary. Hypocrisy defines him.

Once he has used people to his advantage he throws them away if he feels they hinder him.

To appear black enough to get the black vote he called his granny a racist and threw her under the bus. Now that he has the nomination, suddenly he needs the white vote so now granny is now an important influence in hsi life according to his commercials. Hypocrisy...

I could go on and on. Only those still drunk on Obama's snake oil cannot see the truth about him. Most of the WaPo staff constantly makes excuses for him while ignoring the facts. You're no longer journalists -- you're Cult of Obama members.

Posted by: William | July 13, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Worth repeating:
McCain "has proven that he has been wrong about every judgment he's made about the war". "Wrong about the Iraqis paying for the reconstruction, wrong about whether or not the oil would pay for it, wrong about Sunni and Shia violence through the years, wrong about the willingness of the Iraqis to stand up for themselves." And wrong about supporting the Bush-child. Sorry, not Presidential material.

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 10, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Read all the comments and loved those from Windy City (refuted Kerry, with facts, point by point) and RTGreenwood when he points out Kerry asked McCain to be his VP. So Kerry was saying he thought McCain would be his choice to be president if something happened to Kerry.

Great points from Windy City on Iraq and all the progress there that directly refutes Kerry on every point. Gee, John, let's not let the facts get in the way of your comments.

Some people refuse to recognize the truth or changing circumstances because it doesn't support their views. We're still chuckling over all the posts about Lizzy Dole being beat. She's going to win going away.

How are things in Chi-town, WindyCity? I see the Cubs got Rich Harden for the stretch drive, plus next year, too. Good move if he stays healthy.

Posted by: Tarheel | July 10, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Senator Kerry should not attack Senator McCain if he wants to keep his seat.

He endorsed a wrong candidate. It is David Axelrod who failed his campaign.

Posted by: Premier | July 10, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I am a sick puppy. mentally ill, unemployed, nothing to live for, that's why i'm here all day long. poor me.

Posted by: kingofzouk | July 10, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Too bad. Their friendship was a great example of bipartisanship. I hope they can rebuild it.

Posted by: freeDom | July 9, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I hope they can again find common ground and renew their friendship after McCain's failed attempt to become the next president. They can commiserate over a good whine, erm ... wine, and perhaps work together on revamping the grossly inadequate Veterans Administration.

Posted by: Amy | July 9, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

"McCain at least, understands the world stage and more about the economy then Obama will for at least ten more years."

Absolutely not. Not a chance. McCain has been absolutely stunning in the lack of understanding of the lessons of history. Even with all that's happened, to not be able to distinguish between Shiite and Sunni. And to subscribe to the failed ideals of Reagonomics, just shows how little he really understands.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 9, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Dianne - you're slipping. You forgot to write Obama's middle name again. And if you really knew what you were doing, you'd follow your mentor's approach and do it in all CAPS. I guess JakeD'S still golfing.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | July 9, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

John Mc Cain and Barach H. Oboma are staying away from the number one issue: When are we going to start drilling for oil in all of the choice locations in our own country? Is there any reason not to, or are our politicians just plain stupid? Their excuses that it would take years to get started
is getting a bit old. It seems to me that if John Mc Cain or Barach Oboma can't or won't get off their backsides and change their negative opinions of our country being self reliant for its oil needs then perhaps neither of these politicians is suited to run our government.

What are the real reasons for a big percentage our countries economy being siphoned off to middle eastern oil concerns or are we just plain stupid to keep listening to their insipid arguments that all is hopeless and that we are responsible for this. In fact we are for electing politicians with no gumption or reasoning powers to determine what is best for our great country. All of their talk is meant to get them into office so that their party can get more jobs for their own elk. They don't give a damn about our great country which is founded on free enterprise-not political hacks that put their ambitions ahead of our country needs.

Posted by: JohnAm | July 9, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

5:59 Lackey commentor - Wouldn't you give your right arm to see both campaigns eliminate the use of third party surrogates? I would, and probably everyone else would too. I'd love to see these two candidates go head to head in an unfiltered, unscreened town hall debate. I guess the chances of that happening are about as good as the tooth fairy showing up to clean my teeth. I guess I'll put them in a glass and soak them.

Posted by: Capt. Howard | July 9, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Can someone, anyone, please take me seriously, just for once in my life??

Posted by: John Kerry | July 9, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I see dead people. Everyone is out to get me. the press is in league with the Defense contractors. My tin foil hat is bugged. There is a conservative bias in the news. Santa is real and he will give us free stuff, so will Barack.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Just months ago, Kerry was deriding McCain as a turncoat in that he (McCain) was offered Kerry's VP position in 2004. Now Kerry is saying McCain is incapable of making a decision. Does Kerry not get that these two things together prove that he is as political an idiot as exists in this world?

Posted by: RTGreenwood | July 9, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

It's good to see we still have a large number of conspiracy theory enthusiasts around. I doubt any sane person would believe the government is inside every telephone and every household in the nation. Frankly, we're not that important to them. Also, that's not how surviellence works.

Second, don't underestimate McCain and don't discount him because of his age. He's probably sharper then most of you. You're starting to see Obama begin to edge over to McCain's side of the table. Obama's inexperience is starting to show and he's coming to the realization that the world isn't going to dance to his idealistic tune. McCain at least, understands the world stage and more about the economy then Obama will for at least ten more years.

One thing that happens to you as you get older, you become a bottom line thinker. It takes a little time to come up with a good plan, but when you finish it, it is thorough and complete. Bush never had the wisdom of age his father had and it shows. Obama lags far behind McCain in the wisdom category. Let's let the campaign unfold and see who comes out on top in the end. As much as I enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of youth, age plus experience will steer the ship of state through the world's turbulent waters without running us up on the rocks.

One more thing, Kerry is a snake and he always has been. He turned on his fellow veterans after his Vietnam service. Now he turns on the friend who defended him during the swiftboat incident. I'm not too sure that the swiftboat vets weren't right about him.

Posted by: Capt. Howard | July 9, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

has anyone seen my meds?

Posted by: drindl | July 9, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"Then, last Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" Kerry went after McCain on Iraq in his most vitriolic terms to date. McCain "has proven that he has been wrong about every judgment he's made about the war," Kerry said, adding: "Wrong about the Iraqis paying for the reconstruction, wrong about whether or not the oil would pay for it, wrong about Sunni and Shia violence through the years, wrong about the willingness of the Iraqis to stand up for themselves."

then is all factual, Mr. Cilizza. Please explain to us how you can characterize this as 'vitriol.'

Also, please explain why you called John Kerry an 'attack dog' when you have never used any term this loaded to describe any of Mr. McCain's operatives, whose attacks have been far more vicious and less truthful.

God, what a lackey you are.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"Then, last Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" Kerry went after McCain on Iraq in his most vitriolic terms to date."

'Vitriolic' -- my, what an emotionally loaded term, Mr. Cilizza. I would hardly call discussing facts -- and Mr. McCain;s record -- vitriolic. That's classic rightwing framing.

But then, I don't have a mancrush on old John like you and rest of the press corpse. why don't you people just openly declare you want old John to win, and stop pretending to be unbiased?

It's a joke.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, I was suggesting the CW of the duopoly at 45%+. What odds would you give or take?

MikeB, I had just got uncomfortable with the notion that BHO's prospective budget made no effort to claim balance, when a D friend sent me this:

From a liberal source, but I have heard McC say all of this over the past month.

So I begin to think no candidate will talk about raising taxes and cutting services to balance the budget and that all is hopeless and we, as a nation, are just doomed to fiscal insolvency and second world status.

JaySpartan, what do you find most appalling about telcom immunity? That we may never know who was spied upon illegally or that they will not be able to recover damages? "Assume no privacy" is the rule of thumb I would suggest.

And like bsimon, I think this topic, "How Kerry and McCain Grew Apart" in the immortal words of mnteng, is "meh".

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 9, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

MarkInAustin - Unfortunately, I think my remarks are right on the money. Just a month ago, I posted here that both McCain and Obama were decent men and I thought we would do well with either ofm them as President. In light of his remarks over the past few weeks, I have become convenced that John McCain has literally taken leave of his senses. His campaign appears to be inept simply because he is **SO** far out of control that making him appear to be bumbling is the best his handlers can do. The old maverick, the guy who thought for himself, is goner, replaced by this scripted, but poorly acted, right wing nut. I hope to God Barak Obama knows what he is doing, but lately he has given me pause, too, in his mis-perceptions of what the average voter is really concerned about. I mean, the vote granting immunity to the telecoms, what's with that? The real immunity is going to George W. If the telecom's are guilty of illegally wiretapping American's and did so at the behest of the White House, then Bush is guily of a impeachable offense, one that would actually force an impeachment trial. I assume Obama and Pelosi and the other Dem's are well aware of that and this piece of legislation is nothing more than an ill conceived attempt to dodge that mess in an election year. I wonder, though, who do these blithering idiots think they are fooling? Why not just come out and say "It's an election year. Without a grant of immunity to the telecoms, we would be forced to hold impeachment trials of Bush and THAT might just energize the right wing nuts and cost us votes."

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 9, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

richard astley-
There are a lot of folks by this name to found on Google.

Posted by: Kase | July 9, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

bsimon-yeah your right, in the rush to finish up work i might not have thought about that. any comment that ventura is jumping in the MN senate race? ive heard rumblings but wouldnt that hurt Coleman's chances?

Posted by: jay spartan | July 9, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Interesting- why do people real care anymore about John Kerry. He voted for a bill then voted against it- he likes McCain now he doesn't.

The funny story today for all those young Obamaphiles is that Obama voted for the FISE bill and gave immunity to any previous law breakers after claiming he would lead the fillibuster against it- and Hillary Clinton who so many excoriated voted against the bill.

Posted by: peter | July 9, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

jay spartan writes
"do you really think that al quida is using a telephone to contact anyone in the states? in the age of the internet no less, im pretty sure the bill that passed is already obsolete"

jay- telecoms do business in more than telephones. Poke around and take a looksee at who controls the backbones of the internet, meaning the fiber-optic 'pipes' that connect the US to the rest of the world. Hint: its the telecoms, accent on 'com'. If they're not using phones or the 'net, they're using radio (anyone can listen), satellite phone (which are probably covered by the bill under discussion), or postal mail.

Posted by: bsimon | July 9, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

At least Kerry has learned rule number ONE of politics- NEVER, for ANY reason, trust a republican.
ANY republican.

Posted by: Kase | July 9, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

i found it on youtube, here it is libs eat it and weep!

Posted by: richard astley | July 9, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"there is a 45%+ chance McC will be our next Prez."

That seems to be a generous assessment.

Regarding the topic at hand: who cares?

Posted by: bsimon | July 9, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Dianne72 - Dear Idiot. ABC, NBC, CBS, even FOX, investigated this claim and found it to be baseless. It has no foundation whatsoever in reality and you know it. So why do you keep popping with your hysterical and, I might say, insane, claims? I think what you are up to amounts to libel.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 9, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Stay tuned for Michelle Shaniqua Obama's "whitey-gate" tape to hit your local YouTube this October. It will be exciting!!!

Posted by: Dianne72 | July 9, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

che is back! great more scrolling past the useless crap again.

im suprised that no one is talking about the fisa vote. well let me start the ball rolling.

heres how i see it.
1)while i dont like telcom immunity, it can be stripped out depending on who wins.Mcain(no) obama(maybe) the overreacting is a bit premature.

2)for obama this takes a huge issue off the table for the time being.

3)honestly to all the conservative posters out there, do you really think that al quida is using a telephone to contact anyone in the states? in the age of the internet no less, im pretty sure the bill that passed is already obsolete due to the fact that aq has evolved now.

granted a conversation like this would probably devolve to sniping but im sure the more level headed would at least try to discuss this.

Posted by: jay spartan | July 9, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Kerry inexplicably says McCain was, "Wrong about the Iraqis paying for the reconstruction, wrong about whether or not the oil would pay for it, wrong about Sunni and Shia violence through the years, wrong about the willingness of the Iraqis to stand up for themselves."

The Iraqis have paid for a lot of reconstruction and continue to do so. By making plans to increase oil production by 60% by opening production to outside producers the Iraqis are doing the groundwork for taking on more financial responsibility. Sunni and Shia violence is at an all time low and their ability to work together is surprising even themselves. Basically only Al Queda, outside agitators, and a dwindling number of hard core Hussein supporters are still organizing roadside bombing and other attacks. Iraqis standing up for themselves have turned on Al Queda and other agitators to the point where Al Queda is almost defeated. Local Iraqis tribes have even engaged Al Queda in gun battles. The surge attacks using 15 groups of Iraqi military saw 14 of them perform admirably and only 1 group have a poor performance.

It's amazing John Kerry can be so out of touch with the facts. Of course, it things keep going well he'll say he was for the surge before he was against it.

Posted by: WindyCity | July 9, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

For uncensored news please bookmark:

US Government Secret Plans Revealed

US Government Secret Plans Revealed On March 13th 2008, there was a secret closed door meeting of The United States House Of Representatives in Washington. In the history of The United States, this is only the fourth time a secret meeting was held by the house. Even though Representatives are sworn to secrecy by House Rules XVII, some of the members were so shocked, horrified, furious, and concerned about the future of America by what was revealed to them inside the secret meeting, that they have started to leak this secret information to independent news agencies around the world.

The mass media said almost nothing about the secret meeting of the House, mentioning only one of the items being discussed. (The new surveillance techniques that are going to be used by the U.S. Government to watch all American citizens).

The story was first released in a newspaper out of Brisbane, Australia revealing the contents of the secret U.S. Government meeting and plans for America including all of it's citizens. Shortly there after, David J.

For the rest please go to:

Posted by: che | July 9, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

MikeB, I hope you are wrong because there is a 45%+ chance McC will be our next Prez.

McC's campaign has disappointed all of us moderates, on so many fronts that have been spoken of by his opponents. And BHO's campaign does not inspire confidence, either, although it has been well run.

Like the WaPo, I was glad to see BHO acknowledge that facts on the ground would play a role in determining his prospective decisions in Iraq. Like every sane person, I am glad to see that the Iraqis would like us to draw down, soon. Maybe we can get after AQ in Afghanistan yet, no matter who is the next Prez.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 9, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

well let me add my two cents on this. the difference between the john McCain of 2000 and john McSame of 2008 is this, McCain sold out his principles in order to be heir apparant for 2008. if anything McSame is running a gwb 2000 campagin, clumsliy might i add. the only thing missing is rove lurking in the background(if he isnt already)

how many flip flops is the media going to ignore? or the numerous gaffes? im surprised that McSame hasnt accused someone of having a black child yet! kerry and yes clark is right in pointing out that nothing in McSame's record makes him president. obama may have the same problem(take the fisa vote for today) but i dont think the folks at daily kos isnt going to vote for nader.

as for kerry, im thinking he's auditioning for something like secstate or defense in a obama adminstration,plus "payback" in the form of trashing him on tv for not having his back in 04 is a added bonus.

Posted by: jay spartan | July 9, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What is truly awful about this is that a lot of us once upon a time actually respected John McCain. That time is long past. It isn't politically correct to say it out loud, but I am starting to wonder if John McCain isn't suffering from age related mental problems. When people talk of "old coots", they sometimes just mean some old person who is lossing it, gets increasingly angry and frustrated and set in their ways. McCain fits that to a "T".

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 9, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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