During interviews with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Politico's John F. Harris and ABC 7's Leon Harris each claimed that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) has "regularly" "stood up" to the Republican Party. But McCain has altered his positions on significant issues, such as taxes and immigration, to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party, and has been one of the most constant and forceful proponents of the Iraq war and its continuation.
During Politico WJLA/ABC 7 interviews with Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (IL) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), which aired in the Washington, D.C., area on February 11, Politico editor-in-chief John F. Harris and ABC 7 anchor Leon Harris each asserted that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) has "regularly" "stood up" to the Republican Party, while asking Obama and Clinton to cite examples in which they have done the same in the Democratic Party. Neither moderator offered any evidence of McCain's purported standing up to the Republican Party. Indeed, McCain has altered his positions on significant issues, such as taxes and immigration, to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party, and has been one of the most constant and forceful proponents of the Iraq war and its continuation -- hardly a position at odds with his party.
From the Politico's transcript of the February 11 Politico/WJLA interview with Obama:
JOHN HARRIS: Senator, you were ranked recently by National Journal as having the most liberal voting record as having the most liberal voting record [sic] in 2007. That prompts a question from Politico reader Don Mousch (sp.?) or [sic] Norwell (sp.), Mass. He wants to know what they [sic] liberal record should give us confidence that you can reach across the aisle and get things done in Washington.
OBAMA: Well, first of all, not to grouse against the National Journal, but let me give you an example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate, and outside of Congress, to make sure that you've got an impartial eye on ethics problems inside of Congress. Now, I didn't know that it was a liberal or Democratic issue. I thought that was a good government issue that a lot of Republicans would like to see. So that's the problem with some of these ratings
how they score things. It uses categories that I think don't make sense to a lot of Americans.
LEON HARRIS: Well, are you proud of that designation? To be known as the most liberal voting senator?
OBAMA: I don't think you heard what I just said, which is that the designations don't make sense
JOHN HARRIS: Michael Dukakis said, "Yes, I'm proud to be a liberal." Bill Clinton said, "No we can't cast ourselves as liberals." Are you comfortable with the liberal label?
OBAMA: This is what I would call old politics. This is the stuff we're trying to get rid of. Because the problem is, when we start breaking down into conservative and liberal, and we've got a bunch of set predispositions, whether it's on gun control, or its' [sic] on health care, any attempt to do health care is socialized medicine. Any discuss [sic] about taxes ends up being, are you raising them or lowering them, as the opposed to the question I ask -- are we raising them for high income individuals that can afford it, and lowering them for lower income people who really need help. Those old categories don't work, and they're preventing us from solving them problems.
JOHN HARRIS: Senator, we've got a question that goes right to that. The likely Republican nominee, Sen. McCain, has regularly stood up against his own party and has some real scars that he's wearing because of it, when he thought it was in the national interest to do so. Name some issues where you've been willing to stand up against your party, and also take those scars?
OBAMA: Well, look, we've talked about education. We actually had a roundtable here about what we need to do with the schools. I've consistently said, we need to support charter schools. I think it is important to experiment, by looking at how we can reward excellence in the classroom.
From the Politico's transcript of the February 11 Politico/WJLA interview with Clinton:
LEON HARRIS: Let me ask you a question about the l-word: liberal. Now, as you well know, according to National Journal, your opponent, Senator Obama, was ranked as having the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Is he too liberal?
CLINTON: You know, Leon, the Republicans will probably try to make that case, but I'm not going to. I mean, you know, I'm not going to characterize my opponent in that way, because that's a Republican talking point. That's what they always try to do.
You know, I believe that you have to defend the positions you take. I'm very comfortable defending my positions; he will have to defend his positions.
LEON HARRIS: All right, we'll lay off of him for a while, because there's someone else out there who also is going to be on your radar screen, and that's Senator John McCain.
Over the years, watching him in the Senate, he has regularly and taken positions that have been not popular with his party. He has stood up to his party on issues and matters that he thought was important for the rest of the country.
Can you tell us an example of when you stood up against your party in the interests of something that was more important for the nation?
SENATOR CLINTON: Well, luckily, I agree with my party more than Senator McCain agrees with his party. You know, I think that the Democratic Party, ever since '93, has been a much more focused party on getting results for people.
And so, time and time again, I've helped shape the policy, I've helped advocate for the policy, I've helped defense the policy, and I feel very comfortable where I am in the Democratic Party.
You know, I want to get more Democrats elected, so I don't take on my party just for the sake of taking it on. I often try to mold my party and move it so we can agree.