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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

The long (and rocky) relationship of Barack Obama and John McCain

By Rachel Weiner





President Obama will meet with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at the White House today, their first one-on-one summit since the immediate aftermath of the 2008 election.

Obama reached out to McCain after the senator penned an editorial praising the president for his speech in Arizona, which came in the wake of the shootings in Tucson.

The stated topics of discussion will be the Egypt uprising, trade, earmark reform, the economy and immigration, according to a source familiar with the agenda.

But, the real focus of the meeting will almost certainly be repairing a relationship between the two men that has fallen on hard times in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign.

That relationship has never been easy and its rockiness has often played out in public -- before, during, and after the 2008 election.

A brief history of the highlights -- and lowlights -- of Obama/McCain (or McCain/Obama) is after the jump.

* February 2006: Then freshman Sen. Barack Obama approached John McCain on the Senate floor to propose the two work together on ethics reform. The collaboration collapsed within days, in an exchange of nasty letters that -- shocker! -- found their way into the media's hands. McCain was particularly vicious, attacking Obama's "self-interested partisan posturing" and "disingenuousness."

* March 11, 2006: At the annual Gridiron Dinner -- a regular gathering of Washington politicians and press -- Obama sang a song about the ethics dust-up to the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain." Sample lyrics: "I could be a great uniter, making ethics rules much tighter, If I only had McCain."

* December 16, 2007: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) endorsed McCain over Obama in the 2008 presidential race. Lieberman had been an early Obama mentor in the Senate and had stood by Lieberman's side during his 2006 primary challenge from cable television magnate Ned Lamont. (Lieberman lost that race.) But, Lieberman's close personal friendship with McCain seemed to trump those Obama ties and the Connecticut Senator went so far as to speak at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

*June 16, 2008: McCain and Obama could not agree on a series of town hall meeting designed to provide a full airing of their views to the public. The Republican nominee wanted a dozen, while the Democrat wanted only five. McCain eventually held the town halls on his own, constantly pointing to the empty space where his opponent would have been.

*June 19, 2008: McCain went after Obama for not opting in to the public campaign finance system after promising during the primary to do so. "This is a big, big deal," McCain said. "He has completely reversed himself and gone back, not on his word to me, but the commitment he made to the American people."

* August 1, 2008: In a biting campaign ad, McCain compared Obama to Jesus and Moses, mockingly referring to his opponent as "The One."

* October 8, 2008: McCain drew headlines after a debate in which he referred to Obama as "that one." Critics chided McCain for being "nasty," his campaign responded that Obama's was "the fussiest campaign in American history."

* September 24, 2008: McCain suspended his campaign in order to go back to D.C. to work on the economic bailout plan. He asked the Obama camp to delay a debate scheduled for that Friday; Obama refused, and McCain agreed to attend only 10 hours before the event was scheduled.

* January 19, 2009: Obama hosted a dinner for McCain in advance of the inauguration. "John is not known to bite his tongue," Obama said, "and If I'm screwing up, he's going to let me know."

* August 25, 2009: McCain held a town hall at which he jabbed President Obama on health-care reform. However, when an audience member suggested that Obama was flouting the Constitution, McCain pushed back. "I'm sure he respects the Constitution ... I am absolutely convinced he is sincere in his beliefs," McCain said. "I just disagree...He is the president of the United States, and let's be respectful."

* February 25, 2010: At a bipartisan health care summit at Blair House, McCain accused Obama of not living up to his campaign promises. When the president cut in, saying "the election's over," McCain responded, "Well, I'm reminded of that every day."

By Rachel Weiner  | February 2, 2011; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party, Senate  
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