NY Times Hits McCain On Almost Switching Parties, Twice

This becoming a semi-regular occurrence since McCain has become the Republican nominee. The New York Times is once again raising questions about the time in 2001 when McCain considered switching parties to the Democrats. Plus, they’re now probing into the possibility of McCain signing on to be Kerry’s running mate in 2004.

Here is the actual story from the Times:

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain never fails to call himself a conservative Republican as he campaigns as his party’s presumptive presidential nominee. He often adds that he was a “foot soldier” in the Reagan revolution and that he believes in the bedrock conservative principles of small government, low taxes and the rights of the unborn.

What Mr. McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Mr. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

There are wildly divergent versions of both episodes, depending on whether Democrats or Mr. McCain and his advisers are telling the story. The Democrats, including Mr. Kerry, say that not only did Mr. McCain express interest but that it was his camp that initially reached out to them. Mr. McCain and his aides counter that in both cases the Democrats were the suitors and Mr. McCain the unwilling bride.

Either way, the episodes shed light on a bitter period in Mr. McCain’s life after the 2000 presidential election, when he was, at least in policy terms, drifting away from his own party. They also offer a glimpse into his psychological makeup and the difficulties in putting a label on his political ideology over many years in the Senate.

Of the entire story, this is the part I found most interesting and the part most likely to put more questions in the minds of conservatives:

But less than three years later, Mr. McCain was once again in talks with the Democrats, this time over whether he would be Mr. Kerry’s running mate. In an interview with a blog last year, Mr. Kerry said that the initial idea had come from Mr. McCain’s side, as had happened in 2001.

Mr. Kerry, reacting to reports in The Hill newspaper last year about Mr. Weaver’s 2001 approach to Mr. Downey, said he saw a pattern. “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,” Mr. Kerry told Jonathan Singer of MyDD.com, a prominent liberal blog, in remarks that are available in an audio version online and that Mr. Kerry’s staff said last week were accurate. “So his people were active — let’s put it that way.”

My question here, why does the Times keep hitting McCain on this? They have run a similar story before questioning McCain’s actions in 2001. It seems like they’re regurgitating it yet again.

The intent here can clearly be one of two things. Either the Times is hoping to prevent McCain from winning over conservatives, or they’re trying to say he’s lying about his account of these events since he denies much of what is alleged in this article.

Unfortunately this is a he said/they said situation so who knows the real truth.

I’ll be awaiting McCain’s comment later today on this story and will post it when I see it.