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Bush, McCain and the body (language) watch

March 4, 2008 | 11:12 pm

President Bush and John McCain will have an opportunity today to repeat one of the more bizarre scenes from the 2004 presidential campaign.

After some delicate negotations between the two Republican camps back then, McCain agreed to throw himself full-force behind Bush -- much to the delight of the president's re-election team. The Arizona senator even signed on for some joint appearances.

So it was that they found themselves sharing a stage one summer's day in Pensacola, Fla.

McCain, after lavishly praising Bush's pursuit of the war on terror, gave a hug to the man he had battled royally with for the GOP's 2000 nomination. Bush responded with a peck to McCain's temple.

When McCain arrives at the White House's North Portico at 9 a.m. (PST) today to officially receive Bush's blessing as the party's choice to replace him, a pool of photographers will be on hand. And no doubt each will be hoping for a repeat of that '04 show of affection.

It probably won't happen; indeed, in light of Bush's approval ratings, McCain likely will make sure it doesn't. Still, their get-together will offer a reminder of the strange twists ...


the political road can take.

There was no love lost between the two men following the 2000 race. And during Bush's first years in office, McCain was a frequent burr in his side.

But they reached their smoochy accommodation in '04 because it served both their purposes -- Bush wanted to attract the independents who admired McCain; McCain wanted to win points with party regulars.

McCain can still use Bush's help in shoring up his credentials as a true-blue Republican. And for Bush, McCain stands as the one candidate he truly can count on to push a policy in Iraq that has caused such discontent.

-- Don Frederick