McCain Positioned to Steal Bush’s Thunder
The Wall Street Journal today profiles "maverick" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and how his "restless political activism" and "alliances with high-profile Democrats" on health care issues may concern White House officials, who are still "wary" of President Bush's "onetime rival." The senator has been meeting with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) on liability issues related to patients' rights legislation that have "stalled" negotiations on managed care reform. The Journal reports that McCain's talks with Kennedy over managed care may put the senator "out ahead" of the White House on the issue, making it difficult for President Bush to "control his own party." If McCain is able to reach a compromise with senior Democrats on a draft of the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill, the agreement would provide "political cover" for moderate Republicans who oppose the GOP leadership on the legislation's liability issues. One Bush adviser said, "I do think everybody is troubled by the sense that ... McCain thinks he has a mandate, too," adding, "He does not." According to the Journal, McCain's "alliances" are "most upsetting" to Senate GOP Whip Don Nickles (Okla.), who has developed the party's position on the managed care debate. But Rick Davis, who worked on McCain's presidential campaign, said, "I understand [the White House's] fear that John's stepping on their message, but John wants to get things done. It's not about them. It's about the issues." Responding to these concerns from GOP leadership, McCain said, "I do not have a mandate, but I do believe I have knowledge of the issues. I understand why the administration would like to see the first 100 days maximized." He added, "But just as we worked out a campaign finance overhaul schedule, we can have a dialogue on these issues" (Rogers/VandeHei, Wall Street Journal, 2/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.