Years ago, he seriously considered defecting. Would he do it again?
By Philip Shenon | POLITICO
In the long, tumultuous political career of Senator John McCain, it would have been remembered as a turning point. It was only rumored at the time. But the Arizona senator nearly bolted from the Republican Party in 2001.
In secret negotiations with then-Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, McCain plotted how he would depart the GOP. He was furious over the way the party establishment had treated him in the 2000 race for the Republican presidential nomination against the eventually victorious George W. Bush. And within weeks of Bush’s swearing-in as president in 2001, McCain told Daschle that he was looking for a way out of the GOP, probably by declaring himself an independent—a move that would have thrown control of the otherwise 50-50 Senate to the Democrats. The negotiations got far enough, Daschle later told me, that the two men discussed the logistics of the news conference at which McCain would make the announcement. “We came very close,” Daschle said.