McCain: Most absentee '08 Senator
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), missing another major vote on the Iraq war today in favor of presidential campaigning, has pulled far ahead of his 2008 rivals in at least one category: absenteeism.
McCain, who missed today's vote while campaigning in South Carolina as part of another re-launch of his White House bid, has gone two straight weeks without casting a single vote on the chamber floor. He's missed 18 straight votes.
Over the last month, the Senate has held 33 votes. McCain, the onetime frontrunner for the Republican nomination, has been on hand for just seven of those votes.
To be fair, McCain's absence has not once made the difference in the outcome of a floor vote. Today, for instance, the 51-46 outcome was nearly identical to the 51-48 tally a month ago when the Senate first passed the $124 billion war spending bill, so McCain's "nay" vote wouldn't have altered the outcome. As was the case March 29, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lost Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) to the Republicans but picked up Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) to pad his margin up to 51.
No one questions where McCain stands on the Iraq war - fully supportive of President Bush's plans - and the Senator issued a statement today to reiterate that support. He demanded the president veto the bill because it includes a timeline for troop withdrawall.
"I look forward to the President's prompt veto of this misguided bill. After the President rejects the legislation, I sincerely hope that the Congress will finally get serious about passing a measure that can be enacted into law," McCain said in a statement posted on his Senate web site.
Of course, the press release carries a Washington dateline, not exactly accurate since McCain is barnstorming through the Palmetto State with one of his biggest supporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also missed today's vote on the huge supplemental spending bill.
And the four Senate Democrats who are running for president were all on hand for today's vote, even though they have their first major debate tonight in South Carolina.
Besides Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) - who's missed the entire year as he recovers from a brain hemorrhage - McCain has now missed more votes, 60, than every other senator, making it to less than 60 percent of roll-call votes.
The next three most absentee senators are also 2008 candidates, Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.). But they've only missed 41, 37 and 26 votes, respectively. And two top-tier presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), have been present so often on the chamber floor you wouldn't even know they're running for the White House.
Obama has missed seven votes, Clinton three.
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. He's now missed at least seven votes of prominence on Iraq.
While it's doubtful McCain will be on hand to craft a post-veto compromise, his position on what should be done next is clear. "That will require my colleagues to work on a bipartisan basis with the Administration to deliver a bill free of pork and free of withdrawal timetables. We need to send a bill to the President that he can sign, and we need to do it as soon as possible - our troops in the field are waiting on our action," McCain said in his statement.
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