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Blumenthal Claims Inside Knowledge that McCain Flirted with Leaving GOP

     Could John McCain have been the Independent or Democratic senator from Arizona?


     Though that sounds awkward, especially in the midst of a presidential race with McCain as the GOP’s nominee, but one Washington insider claimed McCain considered abandoning the Republican Party.


     According to Sidney Blumenthal, a senior adviser for former President Bill Clinton and current adviser to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, at one point McCain was going to leave the Republican Party and caucus with Senate Democrats.


     “And although he doesn’t want to talk to reporters about it now, there was a time and I was privy to some of those who were involved, did conduct negotiations through third parties about whether or not he would leave the Republican Party and become an independent more or less aligned in the Senate with the Democrats,” said Blumenthal on April 1. Blumenthal did not say when those negotiations took place.


     Blumenthal made the remarks before an audience at a Barnes & Noble bookstore to promote his book, “The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party.”


     Blumenthal, the former Washington bureau chief for Salon.com, referred to McCain’s positions on various issues as evidence he’s not a traditional conservative Republican politician.


     “Now John McCain has emerged as the candidate of the Republican Party,” Blumenthal said. “He is somebody who, although he says that he is a 100 percent conservative, is to all of us who have watched him over the years, somebody who has taken a stance at odds with fundamental positions that were the orthodoxy of the Republican Party on issues ranging from torture, to Bush’s tax cuts initially, to global warming, to, and I remember, tobacco – the tobacco settlement, and I remember even on health care.”


     When Diane Sawyer asked if a McCain presidency would be “four more years” of a Bush presidency, McCain himself sought to contrast some of his positions with President George W. Bush’s views on ABC’s “Good Morning America” April 1. McCain told Sawyer he holds different opinions on several issues including the “major issue” of climate change.


    “I fought hard against the failed strategy in Iraq and called for the new strategy that's succeeding. There’s a number of issues. But the point is I’m not running on the Bush presidency. I’m running on my own service to the country - my own record in the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate and my vision for the future,” said McCain. “And now we’ll have lots of time to portray that, and I’m doing that now and I’m pleased, frankly, where we’re standing in the polls.”


     Although McCain has disappointed some members of the conservative movement, Blumenthal said he did not think this would hurt McCain on Election Day.


     “I think Republicans as a whole – even though they’re suspicious, many of them of McCain and have been angry at him in the past – are much more disciplined as party members than Democrats are,” Blumenthal said. “There’s the famous saying of Will Rogers, ‘I’m not a member of an organized political party – I’m a Democrat.’ So, I think Republicans will rally behind their candidate to a greater degree than people will recognize right now.”


     Blumenthal even supplied advice for McCain.


     “So I do not think this will hurt him and if I were advising McCain right now, I would say he’s slightly overreacting to his conservative base,” McCain said. “I don’t think he needs to do that so much. I think they don’t have any choice right now.