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McCain, McConnell heading for spell of rocky relations
The Hill ^ | 07/25/13 05:00 AM ET | By Alexander Bolton

Posted on 07/25/2013 4:11:39 AM PDT by onyx

The relationship between Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is going to be awkward in the coming months.

McConnell finds himself increasingly constrained by both his new primary challenger and McCain’s expanded deal-making role with Democrats. 

Republican senators told The Hill on Wednesday that McConnell is in danger of looking weak if McCain again seizes the leadership reins as he did to broker a deal to avert the “nuclear option” on President Obama’s executive nominees. 

McCain is interested in being a major player in the talks later this year when Congress must pass legislation to continue government funding and raise the national debt limit. 

The McConnell-McCain relationship has fluctuated over the years. One GOP aide described it as “toxic” in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they fought intensely over campaign finance reform legislation. 

Later, they locked horns on earmarks before Congress agreed to implement a ban on the pet projects long despised by McCain.

McConnell and McCain were on opposite sides in 2005 when then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) threatened to trigger a rule change that would have stripped the minority party of the power to filibuster judicial nominees.

McConnell backed Frist’s plan, but McCain worked within a bipartisan group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats to craft a compromise to thwart it. 

In 2006, McCain helped former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) defeat Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of McConnell’s closest friends in the upper chamber, in a race for Republican whip. Republican sources said McCain was pivotal in helping Lott eke out a one-vote win by whipping votes for him. McConnell was officially neutral in the race, but colleagues assumed he wanted Alexander in the No. 2 slot.

The relationship improved after McCain ran for president, and he emerged as one of Obama’s biggest critics in Congress. 

The dynamic has changed since McCain formed a strong bond with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) over the last several months. McConnell and Schumer have repeatedly lambasted each other in recent years.

McCain on Wednesday disputed that he is stepping in to fill a leadership vacuum left by McConnell’s precarious political standing in Kentucky.

“I don’t think so,” said McCain, who also denied that he undermined McConnell by striking a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on nominees. “In fact, he participated a lot in the last round of discussions.” 

But behind closed doors, McConnell complained that McCain undercut him. McConnell wanted to secure a pledge from Reid to shelve the nuclear option for the rest of the 113th Congress.

McConnell told lawmakers he could have gotten a better deal, according to a Republican senator who attended the meeting.

Some GOP colleagues think that may have been a face-saving ploy.

“McConnell knew something needed to be done, and McCain did it. They’re both institutionalists. They both love the Senate and knew if Harry went ahead with the nuclear option, there would be no going back,” said the senator, who requested anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

The lawmaker said McConnell was fully aware of McCain’s negotiations with Reid. 

“McConnell said McCain undercut him because he had to save face or risk looking weak,” the senator added. 

Senate Republicans say a similar scenario could play out later this year if McCain recruits a group of allies within the conference to strike a deficit-reduction deal with Obama. 

McCain’s chief concern is stopping the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, which he believes have started to erode military morale and readiness.

The Arizona senator was among a group of GOP senators who met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Tuesday. 

“John’s always in the middle of large issues,” Alexander said of McCain’s growing interest in the fiscal debate. 

Some Senate Republicans argue McConnell’s decision to steer clear of deficit negotiations is driven less by political timidity than by his staunch refusal to sign onto any pact that raises taxes. 

“I think this has less to do with McConnell than it does with McCain,” said a GOP aide. 

After negotiating an agreement late last year with Vice President Biden to preserve most of the Bush-era tax rates but increase taxes on people with higher incomes, McConnell said he would not support any additional tax hikes. 

“There’s not a chance that McConnell will revisit that,” the staffer said. “The vast majority of the conference agrees with that, and McCain does not.” 

McConnell sees little point in negotiating with Obama because he knows the president will demand additional tax revenue as the price of any broad budget deal.

McCain has not ruled out raising taxes, but he says the additional revenue should come from closing special-interest tax breaks, such as subsidies for ethanol production. 

Conservatives in the Senate are against funding Obama-Care implementation in any government spending measure this fall. McCain has ripped that strategy, while McConnell hasn’t said which way he is leaning. 

Should McConnell vote for an ObamaCare funding bill this fall, he is sure to be criticized by his new primary opponent, Matt Bevin, as well as right-leaning groups.

Former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said McCain is one of a few senators outside the Republican leadership with the influence to forge a major deficit-reduction deal with Democrats.

“He obviously has the clout within the conference to bring others along,” she said.

Snowe said she does not know whether McConnell and McCain consider themselves friends, but she said both veteran lawmakers respect each other. 

Snow described the relationship as “open and frank.” 

She said McCain often diverges from the Republican leader though always gives him advance notice. 

“They did not always agree and had intense dealings on certain issues, but at the end of the day, they respect and understand each other’s viewpoints,” she said. “The key is not to surprise and to ensure you don’t surprise your leadership.

“John has always been upfront and straightforward,” she said.





TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: fights; mccain; mcconnell
Conservatives in the Senate are against funding Obama-Care implementation in any government spending measure this fall. McCain has ripped that strategy, while McConnell hasn’t said which way he is leaning.

Pull up your big boy pants, Mitch, or otherwise forever be known as a _itch.

1 posted on 07/25/2013 4:11:39 AM PDT by onyx
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To: onyx

READ THE PART WHERE MCCONNELL AND MCCAIN BOTH LOVE THE SENATE MORE THAN AMERICA HERSELF BECAUSE THEY VOTE TO PROTECT THE SENATE BY HARMING AMERICA AND AMERICANS WITH THEIR VOTES. THE SENATE IS A FESTERING HOUSE OF CORRUPTION AND EVIL... IT IS NOT DISTINGUISHED AND IT IS NOT HONORABLE... IT IS INFESTED WITH TRASH LIKE MCCAIN.


2 posted on 07/25/2013 4:17:22 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: onyx

Mcconnell has a primary challenger, Matt Bevin.


3 posted on 07/25/2013 4:21:56 AM PDT by RginTN
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To: LibLieSlayer

You’re right and the infestation is made worse with the likes of Schumer, Reid and all demonic-rats, although McCain is one of them, too.


4 posted on 07/25/2013 4:27:52 AM PDT by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
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To: RginTN

GOOD!


5 posted on 07/25/2013 4:28:09 AM PDT by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
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To: LibLieSlayer

Yep. They’d rather see this entire country dismantled and poor rather than lose the Country Club Lifestyle of the US Senate. A more corrupt and traitorous group has never existed in this country.


6 posted on 07/25/2013 4:30:17 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: onyx

Only good thing about McCain is he gave us Sarah!!!


7 posted on 07/25/2013 4:32:47 AM PDT by GizzyGirl
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To: RginTN

Who is Matt Bevin? People in KY loves incumbency. They associate incumbency with getting unneeded projects. Look how they kept electing Alben Barkley and McC too ad nauseum.


8 posted on 07/25/2013 4:34:00 AM PDT by Theodore R. ("Hey, except for six women in Sanford, FL, the American people must all be crazy out there!")
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To: Gaffer
more corrupt and traitorous group has never existed in this country.

The American people don't know that. They are blind and deaf.

9 posted on 07/25/2013 4:35:31 AM PDT by Theodore R. ("Hey, except for six women in Sanford, FL, the American people must all be crazy out there!")
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To: GizzyGirl

Sarah.... the gift that never gives

She fails to deliver anything but words

I think tease is a good descriptive


10 posted on 07/25/2013 4:35:48 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Travon... Felony assault and battery hate crime)
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To: Theodore R.

Just discovered Bevin yesterday.

Maybe the voters will get tired of Mcconnell and toss him out.


11 posted on 07/25/2013 4:39:14 AM PDT by RginTN
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To: onyx

RINO HUNT!
RINO HUNT!
RINO HUNT!

Kick ‘em out of office—that REALLY HURTS!


12 posted on 07/25/2013 4:39:39 AM PDT by Flintlock ("The redcoats are coming" -- TO SEIZE OUR GUNS!!--Paul Revere)
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To: RginTN

McCain better have one when its his turn. He needs to be put out to pasture.


13 posted on 07/25/2013 4:42:55 AM PDT by Solson (The Voters stole the election! And the establishment wants it back.)
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To: FReepers; Patriots; FRiends





PLEASE SUPPORT FREE REPUBLIC TODAY!

14 posted on 07/25/2013 4:46:10 AM PDT by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
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To: GizzyGirl

I think God gave Sarah to America.

McCain was given a list and was told a woman would garner votes in the female demographic. Once Sarah’s conservative true believer principles were revealed, McCain’s staff tried to squelch her.

McCain and his campaign were motivated by the same Rove-RINO demographic statistical arguments as Romney, not by principles of conservatism.

McCain is no conservative. Palin is.


15 posted on 07/25/2013 5:00:04 AM PDT by Hostage (Be Breitbart!)
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To: Hostage

The Republican voters need to take a close look at both McCain and McConnel who have outlived their usefulness.

Dump them both plus several others that no longer represent “We the People”


16 posted on 07/25/2013 5:03:20 AM PDT by Progov (I'm for SMALLER , HONEST government)
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To: onyx

“John has always been upfront and straightforward,” she said.

Izzatso!?


17 posted on 07/25/2013 5:09:51 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, call 'em what you will. They ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: Hostage
McCain and his campaign were motivated by the same Rove-RINO

McCain was a RINO, so was Dole, so was Romney. Imagine McCain instead of Obama pushing amnesty (immigration reform) and Climate Change legislation; there would have been little difference.

What's happening is that the Republican party is following the Democratic party into socialism. Instead of Liberty and voting the rascals out, socialism would be entrenched like it is in Europe. Where bad policies become fixed for generations.

With our government, at least, we the people can get fed up and change things. Once we abandon our constitution, we will have dictators worse than Obama.

18 posted on 07/25/2013 5:19:36 AM PDT by sr4402
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To: onyx

Translation: “After the election, John, I’ll have more room to maneuver. . .”


19 posted on 07/25/2013 5:29:09 AM PDT by ziravan (Not Guilty.)
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To: Progov
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb

FMCDH(BITS)

20 posted on 07/25/2013 5:45:10 AM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: onyx

The only amazing thing here is that ANYBODY gets along with McCain for any length of time and for any reason.


21 posted on 07/25/2013 5:47:25 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: GizzyGirl
Only good thing about McCain is he gave us Sarah!!!

McCain put her into the light before her time, thus knocking a rising star out of her trajectory.

He then left her and her family dangling above the snarling masses, never coming to her aid, while letting his aids take out their frustrations on her, her family and her reputation.

Everything she has done since 2008 has been to make the best of where she found herself in the aftermath, career-wise, and salvage what she had built for whatever her future might be.

Imagine if she had refused McCain's offer and stayed a successful and popular Governor and we, the nation, just met her for the first time in 2012 or 2016?

Instead, we re-elected obama and McCain and...the senior Senator from Alaska Lisa Murkowski (She was appointed to the Senate in 2002 by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski).

I say McCain, who never intended to win the presidency, did that to Sarah Palin on purpose.

How's that for GOPe payback?

22 posted on 07/25/2013 5:57:19 AM PDT by GBA (Our obamanation: Romans 1:18-32)
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To: onyx

Compared to McCain ‘ole Mitch looks conservative. Kind of like if you are a bit overweight hanging out with morbidly obese people makes you look skinny.


23 posted on 07/25/2013 6:05:39 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (I believe in God. All else is dubious.)
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To: onyx

They are both business as usual guys so why should I care.

Mitch has already unleashed negative ads on his 2014 primary opponent.


24 posted on 07/25/2013 6:14:04 AM PDT by Nextrush (A BALANCED BUDGET NOW AND PRESIDENT SARAH PALIN ARE AT THE TOP OF MY LIST)
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To: Theodore R.
Matt Bevin for U.S. Senate
25 posted on 07/25/2013 6:23:50 AM PDT by Bratch
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To: onyx
McCain’s expanded deal-making role with Democrats.

Hmmm. Making deals with the other side behind the leader's back. This is usually called treason.

26 posted on 07/25/2013 6:39:53 AM PDT by Count of Monte Fisto
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