John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining Dem Ticket in 2004

Note: You can now read the rest of the interview with Senator Kerry here.

On Monday afternoon I had the chance to speak with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic Party's nominee for President in 2004. During the interview, which covers a range of topics and which I will be posting later this afternoon, an item of particular interest jumped out at me: According to Sen. Kerry, it was John McCain's staff who approached his campaign about potentially filling the Vice President slot on the Democratic ticket in 2004. Take a listen to and a look at the interchange...


If you're having trouble with the Odeo player you can download the .mp3 file here.

Jonathan Singer: There's a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain's people -- John Weaver -- had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don't remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom... if there was any "there" there.

John Kerry: I don't know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn't surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active -- let's put it that way.

Singer: Okay. And just to confirm, you said it, but this is something they approached you rather than...

Kerry: Absolutely correct. John Weaver of his shop... [JK aswers phone]

As you might know from reading my posts in the past, I don't usually addend my own thoughts to my interviews. I like to think they speak for themselves. But in light of the fact that I have written about a closely-related subject and I think this item is particularly newsworthy, if you'll oblige me I'd like to write a few words here.

For many Republicans, it has been bad enough that John McCain has voted and worked with Democrats against the majority of Republican Senators on a number of occasions in recent years. For Republicans, I would imagine that reports that he approached the Democrats about leaving the Senate GOP caucus in 2001 represent a borderline unpardonable offense. But it seems that reaching out to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to talk about running on that party's ticket would be tantamount to the highest form of political treason to Republicans.

Certainly, I would assume that McCain's campaign will deny Kerry's account of their interactions. In fact I would be surprised if they didn't push back on this story, as they did to the story in The Hill last week. (A call for comment to the McCain campaign was not returned before the time this story was published.) That said, at least from my vantage this story could hardly come at a worse time for McCain, whose campaign for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination is already noticeably foundering.

Tags: 2004, 2008, Interview, John Kerry, John McCain, Republican Primaries (all tags)

Comments

40 Comments

I want to know why the Dems are talking

Kerry and Daschle have kept these particular juicy tidbits under their hats for years even though timely revelation could have done them much political good (especially Kerry, who got some flack at the time). Why dump it out now when it just embarasses and infuriates McCain? If McCain is still in the Senate in 2009 he'll be a lot harder to work with, and if they're planning to zing his presidential campaign I'd think they should wait until the thick of the campaign. At present the Republicans can just drop him with little harm to their prospects.

by curtadams 2007-04-03 06:42AM | 0 recs
Agree.

This only embarrasses McCain, not that it matters - since he is as reactionary a Republican as one can get.

by saguaro 2007-04-03 08:51AM | 0 recs
McCain willl

join the unity ticket should he lose the republican primary or run as an independent. Or he will completely go on a full frontal attack against Republicans and the Bush admin when he loses. I don't see him taking getting punked again by them lightly.

by Erik 2007-04-04 09:03AM | 0 recs
Perhaps

they think having to drop McCain now will harm the Reeps' prospects more than hitting him with it later?

In a general election, the assertion that McCain considered becoming a Dem isn't going to be a persuasive argument to vote for the Dem over McCain. It's too spinnable in that context.

"The Dems are accusing me of wanting to join them. Apparently even they think that's something to be ashamed of."

But if it sinks his fundraising ability now, cripples him in the primaries (and the primary campaign is going on), they never have to worry about him in the general.

Also, these aren't the kind of revelations you can just drop right before an election and expect to have believed. The credibility of the assertions stems from the fact that they're coming out of the mouths of Dems. That means there's no way to put the story out without everybody realizing it's coming from the Dems. And that means that the closer to an election the story comes out, more likely voters are to assume that the story is intended to influence the election.

So you sow the seeds now and let the story trickle, and watch the Reep candidate who'd be the most difficult to take down in the general, flame out in the primaries.

Makes sense to me.

I just wonder if the claims are true.

by catastrophile 2007-04-04 01:32AM | 0 recs
Re: I want to know why the Dems are talking

Maybe because this is the straw that will break the back of the McCain run for the Presidency.  One down, a couple of more to go.  

by dkmich 2007-04-04 01:41AM | 0 recs
Re: I want to know why the Dems are talking

John Mccain put his testicles and manhood in a hermetically-sealed box during the 2000 campaign when he was maligned by Messrs. Bush, Rove, et al, and failed to respond forcefully.

McCain licked Bush's hand in the manner of a whipped dog in the 2004 election, blindly parroting BushSpeak (BushSqueak?)

His failure to defend John Kerry from the scurrilous bleatings of the SwiftBoat cabal only underscored my belief that he has no honor...only a pathetic compulsion to win.

His blind fealty to Bush's Iraq debacle continues to remind us that he out of touch with today's electorate.

With that in mind, John McCain's testicles remain in that locked box to this day.

by AnaHadWolves 2007-04-04 02:52AM | 0 recs
Great Scoop
Good work.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-03 07:08AM | 0 recs
So...

McCain had a chance to be bold and independent and he took a pass. And reconfirmed his vows to Rove.

by zappatero 2007-04-03 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

Not the first time we would've had a republican mole on the ticket: 2000 Lieberman

by Carolyn in Baltimore 2007-04-03 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

I dunno, despite McCain's problems, I'd still say he's still way better than Lieberman. At least McCain deviates from the Republican party line occasionally.

^_^

by Silent sound 2007-04-03 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

"If McCain is still in the Senate in 2009 he'll be a lot harder to work with"

That goes counter to everything we know.  He typically works well with people that screw him. Kerry should have mentioned his 'little black baby' and 'wife who sleeps around'.  McCain would have called him to apologize.

McCain is drifting into the fog of irrelevance.  To steal a line from him...he'll be able to hide his own easter eggs.

by Jay Severin has a small pen1s 2007-04-03 07:35AM | 0 recs
Is audio working for others?

Thanks for the scoop.  Somehow, I can't get the audio to work, however.  Has anyone else been able to listen?

Good that you asked the question and got a very interesting answer!

by beachmom 2007-04-03 07:36AM | 0 recs
HUH?!?

I'm sorry, but with all the talk about a Kerry/McCain ticket being a Bush-killer combination, I think that this makes Kerry look very, very foolish.

In 2004, McCain still had backbone and was not a GOP patsy yet.  His presence on the Kerry ticket would have been huge.  

I always assumed that Kerry's long delay in choosing a running mate was due to HIS approaching McCain about joining and McCain using this to negotiate with the GOP -- I always thought that Rove promised McCain the 2008 GOP nomination to keep him in the fold.

Now we hear that he came to us?  Big mistake to give up a ticket that showed true non-partisan rejection of Bush's 1st term idiocy.

I was never a big Kerry fan, and this makes him look even less insightful, even less innovative, even less independent of the Dem machine, and even less impressive to me.

by ideahamster 2007-04-03 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: HUH?!?

I'm wondering the same things. Maybe McCain was only using the threat of defection to extract a promise of support in 2008 from Rove? Maybe McCain asked for more than Kerry felt he could give up in good conscience? I'd like to know more details.

by rebop 2007-04-03 08:32AM | 0 recs
McCain would have been a disaster on the war

How could McCain POSSIBLY be a team player had Kerry begun to withdraw troops which even in '04 he hinted he would do?  There's also the fact that Kerry knows McCain better than any of us, having worked with him in the Senate for years.  Perhaps what he knows about him automatically precludes him from consideration of being one heartbeat away from the presidency.

I have read of his bad temper and the fact that he was unbelievably rude to a German delegation (in a New Yorker article).  McCain has, um, issues, which is why, apart from ideological circumstances, he would be a risky president.

I don't agree with your assessment at all.  Especially since perhaps, McCain made demands that were an absolute deal breaker.

by beachmom 2007-04-03 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain would have been a disaster on the war

I understand your concerns, but I really wonder what portion of your assessment relies on the principle of the pre-defined outcome.  

I am not confident at all that McCain's politics would be the same today if he were in his first term as VP under Kerry.  I suspect that McCain felt in 2004 that he simply could not survive as a politician on the fence.  He had to decide which camp to go with.  It seems now that he asked to join the Dems, and we shunned him, driving him into the Bush camp.  He knew that he had to be a Bush-team player, and, to his "credit" (in a Machiavellian way), he has held up his end of that deal with the devil.

I personally believe that the Democratic Party is strong enough to survive intense debate on priciples and platform.  I disagreed with Dean when he apologized for inviting southerners with gun racks and the Southern Cross flag to vote for him -- votes are votes:  we don't move forward by preaching to the choir.  I say let them in and then they'll change.

Same goes for McCain:  I think that Kerry made a huge error by rejecting McCain's overtures.  A cross party ticket would have been the very thing to combat the über-partisan Bush "with-us-or-against-us," "dissent-equals-treason" craziness.

JMHO.

by ideahamster 2007-04-03 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: HUH?!?

I think he was pretty much a patsy in '04

by delmoi 2007-04-03 10:31AM | 0 recs
Wow, McCain is such a tool

I know republicans generally look over toolishness when selecting a leader, but his dabbling with the democratic party has got to hurt.

by delmoi 2007-04-03 07:52AM | 0 recs
What was Kerry thinking if he said no?

With this revelation, McCain stands about as good a chance in the GOP primary as Michael Moore.

But as a Democrat, and former Kerry supporter, I'd like to know more about this. Specifically, WTF Kerry was thinking if he said no? A Kerry/McCain ticket would have been a sure winner.

Maybe McCain demanded certain things Kerry didn't feel he could deliver in good conscience? But as pathetic as McCain looks in 2007, in 2004 he would have been a silver bullet straight through Bush/Cheney's heart. I'd really like to know what went on there. If Kerry is going to make revelations like this, he owes those of us who worked so hard and gave so much to get him elected president a fuller explaination.

And why is Kerry making this revelation now?

by rebop 2007-04-03 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: What was Kerry thinking if he said no?

The ticket might have been a winner, but the marriage could never have worked.  McCain would have been up on the Hill breaking ties against the Administration position.

Also, have a wingnut Veep would have made President Kerry's future in office pretty shaky.

by howie14 2007-04-03 08:45AM | 0 recs
It would have been irresponsible

Yes, there is winning, but what exactly would we have won having someone so untrustworthy in the WH?  Kerry had a good chance and he came pretty damned close with Edwards on the ticket.  Although on paper, McCain may have seemed good, how would even the campaign worked when McCain is clearly hawkish, whereas Kerry was already eyeing the exit door for Iraq, once diplomacy took foot?  Would there have been infighting during the campaign?  Anonymous quotes about Kerry's "indecisiveness", which is what McCain called him in '04.  I realize that loss hurt, and it's easy to think about what could have been done differently, but I see disaster had McCain been on the ticket, knowing what we know now about his lack of integrity.

by beachmom 2007-04-03 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: It would have been irresponsible

It's also worth considering that McCain would have provided endless amounts of copy for the 'divided Democrats' meme

by Englishlefty 2007-04-03 04:39PM | 0 recs
directly contradicts New Yorker article re McCain

There was a long feature in the New Yorker about McCain. In it he very directly claims the moral high ground by saying Kerry approached him but he turned it down so as not to betray his base. Someone is lying. The sad thing is, I don't know which camp. More to the point, why would Kerry even entertain the thought? McCain may be iconclastic, but he's still far to the right. This is not the "West Wing."

by gcchung 2007-04-03 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

I totally disagree that having McCain on the Kerry ticket would have been a good thing.  It certainly would have angered me to see a conservative Republican on a Democratic ticket.  That's just nuts.  McCain is toast in the presidential race.  He has no change at all and I doubt he'll even hold onto his Senate seat next time.  That crap about strolling through Bagdhad will make for excellent TV ads to run  against him.

by VickiS 2007-04-03 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain

I think it shows how completely and utterly lacking in principles McCain is.

by jallen 2007-04-03 09:23AM | 0 recs
I think the thing ......

..... to take away from this episode is the growing extremism in the Republican party. For too long I hung onto the deluded myth that we cared about managing government efficiently, supporting actual free markets, curbing government intrusion, etc.... Somewhere along the line the Republican party turned into an aristocracy committed to preserving the lifestyle of corporate welfare hucksters, military contractors and their ilk. To support this mode of government they couldn't appeal to true Republicans (Goldwater conservatives) like myself, but instead had to create a constituency of religious zealots and bigots they could entice into voting for them with the promise of replacing the constitution with the Bible.

McCain came of age in the Goldwater era. I have no doubt that he is dismayed by the failings of his party. But his ambition corrupted him to the point where the true Republican in him is no longer recognizable. I still think that the best thing that could have happened to the country was McCain winning the GOP nomination in 2000. It took guts to marginalize Falwell and Robertson during the primary campaign. Had he won the presidency without their grace, they truly would have been irrelevant. Anyway, my point is that McCain's outreach to Dems is not very different from the conversion of many old school Republicans like myself.  

by crazymoloch 2007-04-03 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me

A Kerry/McCain ticket would have been gold.  The press LOVES McCain (at least they did at that time).  I agree that McCain is too far to the right on a lot of issues and governing would have been very difficult to say the least.  But getting Mr. Piece of Shit out of the White House was paramount.  In what was going to be a tough year (wartime president and all that crap) anyway, Kerry got handed a golden ticket and apparently passed.  

Can the Democratic Party nominate a guy who has a fucking clue about how to select a VP.  First Gore's choice of Lieberman (the gift that keeps on giving) and now this.  I'm at a complete loss.

by Double B 2007-04-03 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me

I don't know that McCain on the ticket would have helped Kerry that much. It would have given the GOP more ammunition for attacks and it would have caused problems with Kerry's base. Such a ticket might have worked with a moderate Republican.

by robliberal 2007-04-03 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me

It could have been Jesus Christ himself on the ticket and the Republicans were going to make attacks.  I think the media would have fawned over McCain and given Kerry props for "bipartisanship."  It might all be horseshit, but I believe it would have been very effective.

What problems with the base?  Maybe Nader pulls more votes, but I don't know one Democrat who was EXCITED about Kerry.  We all voted for him anyway.  I don't think McCain would have made me less excited about a Kerry Presidency.  McCain would have been a terrific coup.

by Double B 2007-04-03 11:11AM | 0 recs
Mixed feelings

On the one hand I'm glad to see the press derailing the "Straight Talk" myth and going after McCain over his duplicity.

On the other hand, I'm sad to see that McCain is unlikely to win the Republican primary, because he would have been easy to be in the general.

It might be Guiliani, and I think he's much tougher to beat.

by jamiek 2007-04-03 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

I think it's been confirmed: McCain needs to be committed.

by Political Junkie 2007-04-03 10:01AM | 0 recs
We'll Never Know
...what could have been.  (Count me as a vote that a Kerry/McCain team would have won running away, and might possibly have been a halfway decent Presidency -- but if pigs had wings, they probably still couldn't fly.)
But one thing that we can know, or at least can ask about, is why Kerry, or his people, didn't say anything about this at the time?
The MSM take on the whole thing (which was the RNC/Bushbot take of course) was that Kerry had tried to woo McCain, and failed, signifying his weakness, the weakness of the Dem field, the value of McCain, etcetcetc.  It was an integral part of the MSM assault on the Kerry campaign -- so WHY did the Kerry campaign permit this to go unchallenged?
Of course, this is like asking why they didn't fight the SwiftBoatLiars, why they let the Repukes play them into not making the Democratic Convention a non-stop indictment of all the failures of the Bush administration ("O, we can't go NEGATIVE!  We can't let this descend into a HATEFEST!" You mean like the Republican convention a few months later?  Cause we see how much that turned off the voters...  Yeah, voters clearly hate hatefests.)
PUNKS!  Can somebody remind me please why Bob Shrum, or any of those wretches, still merits the time of day from any Democrat?
by smartalek 2007-04-03 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining

You know, it's funny, but I seem to recall a couple of years ago McCain and the Moonie Times saying the opposite thing: He claimed that Kerry approached him and asked him to be his running mate and that McCain's response was, quote, "I don't even think that's constitutional."

by jurassicpork 2007-04-03 08:22PM | 0 recs
by 3gmobile 2008-02-23 05:32PM | 0 recs
by teiddy 2008-03-04 08:24PM | 0 recs
by teiddy 2008-03-04 09:39PM | 0 recs
Kerry changing the story?

this is how it was reported at the time:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht ml?res=9C00E0D81230F931A25755C0A9629C8B6 3

Is he now denying this report that it was his people that approached McCain?

by ocli 2008-03-07 04:03AM | 0 recs
Dem Ticket in 2004
FOXNEWS.COM HOME > transcript: McCain on Kerry Thursday, July 08, 2004
SNOW: Well, you're absolutely right though, it's going to be fun to see. Now John Kerry, is it true that John Kerry asked you to be his vice president?
McCAIN: Uh, no. No, it was never offered.
SNOW: It was never offered. So, it may have been discussed elliptically, but never flat out request.
McCAIN: Never was an offer, no.
SNOW: When you had conversations, did you think it was a little weird that he'd be calling you, even in general terms about this sort of thing?
McCAIN: Well, he and I have been friends for a number of years because of our efforts on POWs and MIAs which was a very hot issue back in the early 90's, a lot of people have forgotten about it, but it was a- and we worked together to try to resolve that issue and I appreciate the work that he did on it. And, so it's not unusual for us to have conversations.
SNOW: Right. But, so- I want to just lay to rest once and for all: never approached you, never hinted that he wanted to talk to you about being vice president. All that kind of stuff was made up.
McCAIN: Well, I cannot attest to that. All I can tell you is my conversations with him were private conversations, but he never offered it.
by kellyjean 2008-03-08 12:54AM | 0 recs
by hjhjh220 2008-03-24 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: John Kerry: McCain Approached Me About Joining
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by hjhjh220 2008-04-04 12:16AM | 0 recs

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