Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain received a hearty ovation from Senate Democrats at a Capitol Hill meeting with President Obama Wednesday, helping to enliven a Democratic caucus meeting to discuss the Obama administration’s surveillance scandals and an impending budget crisis.
McCain earned his Democratic applause after saying that a presidential matchup between Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton would be a “tough choice,” in an interview with The New Republic published Wednesday. It is unclear whether Democrats were applauding McCain’s New Republic interview, or perhaps one of the other markedly nonpartisan statements he has made in recent months.
Obama took separate meetings Wednesday morning at the Capitol with House Democrats and subsequently Senate Democrats, talking political strategy in the midst of high-profile administration scandals. Obama’s legislative coalition was recently threatened when more than 150 House Democrats wrote to Obama urging reform of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs.
Congressional Democrats reportedly urged Obama not to cave to Republican efforts to block continuing-resolution budget bills and potentially force a government shutdown until Obamacare is defunded.
McCain, who has been a sharp critic of the clique of junior GOP senators pushing that plan, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, was a welcome presence in the Democratic camp.
McCain’s growing political friendship with Obama has recently become fodder for the mainstream press. The 76-year old Republican, who faced a formidable tea party primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth in 2010, has hinted that he might not run for re-election in 2016.
“To be clear: I opened the wrong door, looked in and saw the President, said ‘my mistake’ and everybody laughed. Lighten up everybody…,” McCain tweeted after the incident.