Before resting from the grueling presidential race, John McCain began discussing with senior aides what role he will play in the Senate now that he has promised to work with the man who defeated him for president.
By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer
Democrats, who padded their majorities in the House and Senate, have a suggestion: McCain can mediate solutions to partisan standoffs on key legislation as he did to help avert a constitutional meltdown over judicial confirmations in 2005.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain gestures during his speech concession speach to Democrat Barack Obama during his election night rally on November 4, 2008 in McCain’s home town of Phoenix, Arizona. McCain, 72, now faces an uncertain future as the shell-shocked Republicans attempt to regroup with an eye on mid-term elections in 2010 and the next White House race in four years’ time.(AFP/File/Robyn Beck)
“There’s a need for the old John McCain, a leader who worked in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday.
GOP leaders, never fond McCain’s independent streak or blunt style, nonetheless are reaching out to keep him in the fold and keep Republican ranks as robust as possible during the next Congress, two knowledgeable GOP officials said on condition they not be named because the conversations were private.
One obvious focus will be the war in Iraq. After two years spent more on the campaign than in the Senate, McCain will return as the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. That will put the four-term Arizona senator in a position to influence Democrat Barack Obama’s plan to set a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from combat in Iraq.
“That would be good,” Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said in a telephone interview. “I would love to see McCain work with President Obama in dealing with Iraq in a way that Republicans and Democrats could agree on.”
During the campaign, McCain staunchly opposed setting such a time frame, even as the Iraqi government began working with the Bush administration to do so.
But in conceding the presidency to Obama Tuesday night at a Phoenix hotel, McCain pledged “to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.”
He allowed that defeat was disappointing but said that starting Wednesday “we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.”
Aides said they believed McCain would work well with Obama as president because much of his best work in the Senate had been done with Democrats, including a landmark campaign finance law he crafted with Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and an unsuccessful effort with Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to pass comprehensive immigration reform.