Looking at the big picture, Senator John McCain’s turbulent political career would have been thought of as a major twist. At the time it was only speculate, however, the Arizona senator almost left from the Republican Party back in 2001.
Secretly negotiating with former-Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, McCain made shady plans about how he would abandon the GOP. He was enraged with the manner the entire party had behaved towards him in the 2000 race for the Republican presidential selection against the ultimately triumphant George W. Bush.
A few weeks after Bush’s presidential inauguration in 2001, McCain said to Daschle that he was trying to find a way out of the GOP, perhaps by proclaiming himself an independent—a step that would have thrown control of the regular 50-50 Senate to the Democrats. Daschle later explained that the negotiations developed so much, that the two men talked about the logistics of the news conference during which McCain would announce his decision. “We came very close,” Daschle stated.
Even now, after so much time has passed, amid the havoc that Donald Trump’s presidency caused and with the life-changing vote of McCain from a week ago where he defied the White House and sabotaged a huge Republican attempt to eliminate Obamacare, Daschle and other Democratic advisers and lawmakers are hesitant whether or not the party should start a new campaign to attract McCain and other Republican senators wavering away from the GOP.
They also said that other apparent campaign targets would probably be Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the two women Republican senators who stymied the GOP’s repeal attempts the previous week.
Ornstein stated that he was pessimistic about McCain or other Republicans abandoning the party – at least not yet. “One thing I’ve seen with these Republicans is that the tribal identity runs deep,” he stated. “It’s like a religion, and I think that’s more true of Republicans than Democrats.”