Washington insiders are amused that President Obama seems to be embracing a surprising Republican as an example of principled leadership: Sen. John McCain.
That’s right, the same John McCain that Obama battled and berated for months in 2008 during their bruising election. But in speeches and statements, Obama is using McCain to draw a contrast with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who Democrats are faulting for failing to stand up to the extremists in his party in the way that McCain did in 2008.
In an Internet ad, the Obama campaign recalls the moment in 2008 when McCain confronted a supporter who claimed Obama was an “Arab.”
“As the Republican nominee, John McCain stood up to the voices of extremism in his party,” the Internet video says. It asks why Romney has failed to do the same.
Of course McCain and other Republicans are not pleased by the comparison, particularly since McCain has been one of Obama’s harshest critics over the past four years. But the predicament recalls the old maxim about politics creating strange bedfellows.
“John McCain believed in climate change,” Obama told supporters at a fundraiser in Minneapolis Friday. “John believed in campaign finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. I mean, there were some areas where you saw some overlap. In this election, the Republican Party has moved in a fundamentally different direction.”