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The secret friendship of Hillary Clinton and John McCain

It's one of those things that sneaks up on you in politics, a sense of things happening not quite as you expected. It started in April when our Times colleague Louise Roug called with a quote from Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She'd shaken hands at a factory gate in Toledo, Ohio, then before flying to Texas held a mediaSenators John McCain and Hillary Clinton who've quietly become good friends availability where she said: "Sen. McCain brings a lifetime of experience to the campaign. I bring a lifetime of experience. And Sen. Obama brings a speech he gave in 2002."

A pretty good zinger that got Clinton into the day's news flow while her plane was heading to an Austin, Texas, rally.

But why would the Democratic candidate mention the Republican at all? Let alone in a positive way as qualified to be president in comparison to a fellow Democrat?

That thought quickly passed in the flood of primaries and news.

But then in the final weeks of the primary season, as the inevitable delegate math closed in on Clinton, she attacked Barack Obama, of course. He was ahead. And she clearly didn't want four more years of President Bush. John McCain, already running for the general election, attacked Obama. And Obama fired back at the Republican.

But neither Clinton nor McCain fired at each other.

Then after the last night of primary ballot-counting, Clinton and Obama spoke briefly about each other. McCain uttered one sentence ...

... about Obama.

And then the Arizona Republican said this about the wife of the only Democrat to be elected twice since FDR: "Sen. Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.

"As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend."

And then a week ago this morning it became clear that the Democratic Party was forcing Clinton to end her bid. On Saturday, Obama went golfing. Clinton and her family dressed as if for a funeral and went to thank their supporters with a grateful speech and, on paper, a hearty, full endorsement of Obama.

But something was missing. Not one word in the speech about the Republican nominee that Obama must now confront for the White House.

As she was speaking, the McCain campaign's new website blog, The McCain Report, posted a special tribute to the losing Democratic candidate, familiarly headlined "Hillary Out," something the Obama campaign didn't fully match for two days.

"Sen. Clinton has really grown on us," McCain blogger Michael Goldfarb wrote. "She ran an impressive campaign ... an impressive candidate ... inspired a generation of women. ... Sen. Clinton also didn't mention John McCain once during her speech. This came as something of a surprise over here, and a pleasant one at that. But it's clear that John McCain and Hillary Clinton respect each other -- and there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ."

The blog post included a photo of McCain and Clinton together on a ship in the Arctic during one of their several journeys as members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. These things do not happen on official campaign websites spontaneously or by accident. Nor does the enemy get accidentally omitted from a major speech.

So The Ticket called a bunch of people who know both McCain and Clinton. It's true, they confirmed, there is a special friendship between them. And it apparently started in January of 2001, when Clinton became the first former first lady elected to public office and walked into the U.S. Senate.

It has always been a gentlemen's club, if not always populated by gentlemen. And the warmth toward Clinton was missing. Until McCain walked up and heartily welcomed the newcomer and showed her around. "They really hit it off," said one friend.

Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on an Arctic trip

They shared many things, including a candid tongue. Both also have at times been at odds with their own parties. They found they could work together across the aisle as committee members and enjoyed each other's company on fact-finding trips around the world. In Estonia, according to one famous tale, Clinton challenged McCain to a vodka shot-drinking contest, which he readily accepted.

Later, McCain remarked to friends "she was one of the guys," a high compliment among guys.

Learning about their unexpected friendship got us to thinking about a few things. What if McCain and Clinton, both their party's front-runners a year ago today, ended up confronting each other in the general election? Would we have seen a more civil campaign for a change?

According to several sources, including the Atlantic's respected Marc Ambinder, McCain came within a breath of publicly promising last year that his would be a one-term presidency. Aides convinced him it was an unnecessary chip to discard then.

Meanwhile, Clinton appears to be delivering early on her commitment to help Obama, steering her financial supporters to assist him in recent days, though some demur.

She's promised "to do all that I can" to help ensure his election, which sounds good but is practically hard to define. There will be some grand unity event soon. And at the Denver convention. But we'll see about the fall come fall.

The fact is, many of her 18 million supporters may not go for Obama. Wouldn't it be an amazing end scenario to an amazing political season if the working-class supporters, especially women, of the Clinton who so many Republicans love to hate helped elect the GOP senator from Arizona that so many Republicans have their own doubts about?

Such a Republican win, even a narrow one, as unlikely as it seems right now, would erase the present presidential hopes of the usurper Obama and could clear the way in 2012 for another try by that same Clinton, who'll only be 64 then.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credits: Associated Press; The McCain Report.

Comments () | Archives (128)

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It's funny, Hillary is out of the race, but there are articles still in the papers on her and Bill, the blogs are still commenting on seems the country can't have enough of the Clintons. Even Obama looks flat since he's not competing against her. He now looks like an ordinary left wing candidate campaigning for the Presidency. He's John Kerry without the haircut. I write this as a lifelong democrat who has now signed up as an independent.

If Obama wins this election I will be moving to Canada.

Obama's lead grows over McCain!!!
Even with Hillary supporters going to McCain, Obama is still winning significantly.
Looks like America is sick of the same old politics under the guise of "experience". We want CHANGE!

yes, this uneducated hillbilly, with a masters degree who was born in manhattan, was and is a hillary supporter. i will be voting for john mccain in the fall.

I have voted as a Democrat all my adult life (four decades of voting) and for the first time will vote for a Republican for president. Obama is not qualified except as a public speaker and that is not enough to carry us through this very tough times which will continue to get tougher. The late separation from his church was only from political expediency and that says a lot (negative) about his character. The number of his associates with questionable backgrounds just increases. His camp states that he knew nothing about illegal financial dealings of some of these associates. I suppose if you buy the idea that he knew nothing about the pastor who was so intimately involved in his life and that of his family (for 20 years) then you will believe any story he gives to cover the dealings with those other associates (see latest new about the chief guy handling the VP search).

As Sen. Hillary Clinton so eloquently pointed out in her concession speech for the last 40 years─ for the last 10 presidential elections there were only 3 occasions that a Democratic candidate was elected President of the United States. And 2 out of 3 belonged to President Bill Clinton! Why? I think it’s because of DNC’s primary presidential candidate selection system is deeply flawed! The DNC is doomed to repeat the same pattern of loss because the primary system that selects their candidate favors the weaker and the less electable. So that DNC keeps repeating this loser’s pattern. The DNC is full of chronically defeated! You name them; Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Bill Bradley and others. Losers! Unfortunately, this time too “the system” has chosen another unelectable candidate; Sen. Barack Obama!
Now, Hillary Clinton out of the race, the presidential race sound very flat and boring!

Get used to saying "President John McCain!"
What’s happed at the Democratic Presidential Primary race was a true tragedy not only for Sen. Hillary Clinton and for our country if not for the entire world. Meanwhile Democratic super-delegates have abandoned their role as party leaders, for the purpose they were exactly created for. They were paralyzed and dysfunctional lot, most of them without a backbone, full of sentimentalities, various kinds of social and cultural justifications but unsuited make tough decisions that our country needs. You saw them in session in Washington DC last weekend. Did you ask yourself the question, are these are the cream of sum-collective of our political leadership of the Democratic Party? Not being able to vote against Sen. Barack Obama─ afraid it would be considered “racist” ─Democratic Party leaders and super-delegates have let unelectable Sen. Obama as their party’s nominee. But this is unfortunate because Sen. Obama can’t win against Sen. John McCain. We all knew that. Sen. Obama’s base of support is too narrow, having won most of delegates through caucus states. Not having won a single major state and not being able to get the support of wide segments of voters Sen. Obama is unelectable. It would be helpful to anyone who doubts this hypothesis to read “Vote by Numbers” column by an astrophysicist named Neil DeGrasse Tyson on 6-6-08 in the New York Times. It says, “If the general election were held today, Barack Obama would lose to John McCain, while Mr. McCain would lose to Mrs. Clinton. This conclusion comes not from wishful thinking but from a new method of analysis of statistics of polls that has been accepted for publication in the journal of Mathematical and Computer Modeling. The authors, J. Richard Gott III, a professor at Princeton and Wes Colley, a researcher at the University at Alabama in Huntsville, are not politicians. They are astrophysicists. And one of the tasks of scientists is to clarify the apparent complexity of the universe by using the language of mathematics… ” I don’t think we needed a these scientists to tell us what’s going to happen in November. This situation is not going to change. The Democratic Super-delegates with the helped the American media are electing Sen. John McCain as our next president. We can look forward to a George Bush’s third term in November 08. Get used to it.

I would never vote for Obama.

A person who wants a UNITED JERUSALEM SOLELY UNDER ISRAELI RULE is insane. No president has EVER made such a ridiculous and overly supportive Israeli statement before. We have enough issues at home to deal with, I am not voting for a man who is going to put us in deeper waters abroad.

"The fact is, many of her 18 million supporters may not go for Obama. "

Sir, this is not a fact. This is mere speculation. How many is "many"?

This is a popular storyline, but so far unsupported by any evidence or data. It's also silly to call them her "supporters": they voted for her. That's it. They may have been very close between Obama and Clinton, and simply chose Clinton. There is no reason to believe they are not happy with Obama.

Try to get beyond the media hype. I know you can.

Yes, we can.

This article sure raised the hackles of Obama's supporters. It is dawning on them that all those caucus wins don't amount to so many supporters, and there are a lot of angry Clinton supporters. More "loyal Dems" would have been nice, but Obama's competitive edge right now is flaccid. John McCain will beat him like a rented mule, and Obama's supporters are already making excuses. The blame falls squarely on their shoulders; try dusting that off in November!

As for the woman at a fundraising event who asked "how do we beat the b*tch?" McCain just about swallowed his tongue and asked for a translation. Someone in the crowd joked, "I thought she was talking about my ex-wife." Then McCain laughed. He went on to cite statistics and ended by saying he has the utmost respect for Sen. Clinton. It is apparent that she has made a favorable impression in the Senate and takes her job seriously while leaving partisan bickering out of it. The way her own party turned on her in this election was a real shame. I will vote for McCain with no second thoughts. I want nothing to do with Obama's "new politics."


Hear Ye, Hear Ye

As a former lifelong Democrat, Clinton loyalist and ferverent, foot and financial supporter of the only truly viable candidate we former Democrats had in the Presidential Primary.....

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

As a former lifelong Democrat, African-American female patriot and lover of the Constitution of the United States, I will NEVER bow to the pressure of the soon to be former Speaker Pelosi and soon to be former Senator McCaskill.....

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

As a former lifelong Democrat, thinker, reader, knowledge seeker, CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times cannot shove the Manchurian Candidate BO down my throat.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye the voice of a former lifelong Democrat, female, upscale, educated, gun-totting, Bible thumping AMERICAN. the Manchurian Candidate BO will NEVER get our votes.

I officially mailed my Republican Party application on Sunday to Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (MO).

African Americans do not be deceived, the GOP remains the part of Lincoln. And I will take a Lincoln over a BO anyday.

Here's to my ancestry, McCain 08!!!!

Informed McCain Democrat

What to John McCain and Hillary both have in common?

They'll work across the aisle.

What does John McCain and Obama have in common?


This just in from our "duh" desk....

(A) It's not a secret; (B) Two competitors can be frineds; and (C) It's politics. There just might be something in it for each of them to say nice things about each other....

If there is one thing that I will not miss after this election is over, it's the absurdity of crying "racist" every time an Obama supporter does not like what they hear. You are watering down the significance of real racism. Now, when it really occurs, people will be less inclined to take it seriously. You've consistently thrown the terms at a group of some of the most committed civil rights advocates in this country. What do expect to be the long term result of your baseless allegations? It won't be that Clinton supporters will be any less Black or White. It won't be that Clinton supporters will care any less about civil rights. The end result of crying "racism" in response to every single thing you don't like about this election will be that the people who didn't believe it existed before this election will be that much more confident that it doesn't exist after this election. In your quest to advocate for your candidate, you are not only destroying the relationship between the Black and White communities, you're making it more difficult for those people whose lives are negatively affected by institutionalized racism. Lastly, you're creating divisions within a population of people (to wit: every single one of us) who are still struggling to overcome the effects of a history that all but a few in each culture would prefer to have occurred differently. If you really want race to be irrelevant, then work to make it so and stop carelessly making it worse for those who are sincerely committed to making it better. I have had enough of these young White kids using the internet to call me, a person who shares Obama's multi-cultural heritage, a racist because I support Senator Clinton. If you really care, work to make it better instead of alienating people and creating divisions in a country already struggling to overcome. In the mean time, don't kid yourself into believing that calling people names is in any way the solution to bringing about unity. It's time to write a little less and reflect a little more, and for those of us who are negatively affected by your comments (to wit: every single one of us), we' will be that much better off because you chose to refrain. Thank you.

McCain, for his part, puts the personal above the politics. An article in the NYT from 10 years ago documented the devotion he showed to Mo Udall at the end of Udall's life.

The earliest mention of the vodka drinking contest is here:

Many of you are missing a very important point. Must people (bho supporters) continue to forget that Hillary received 18,000,000 votes? Denile doesn't make us go away. Do you haters of Hillary realize how many votes that is? Obama will never get the white house without the support of Hillarys supporters... Thats the bottom line. To continue to discard so many is a very big mistake by bho's campaign. Selected not elected is not our way. I am no more a racists for believing in Hillary than the notion that we are somehow not patriotic if we didn't support the Igaq invasion. God bless America.

Obama supporters are very hateful people, especially towards Hillary. In November they will pay for their fanatical behavior.


“…McCain has previously distorted Clinton's record on issues such as health care, taxes, the environment, and housing; nor did they note that McCain has a history of personal attacks against Clinton and her family.
For example:
• Health care. McCain has repeatedly falsely attacked Clinton's health-care plan. In recent months, McCain has mischaracterized Clinton's health-care plan as a "nationalized health-care system," a "one-size-fits-all, big-government takeover of health care," a "government monopoly" on insurance coverage, and "a health-care system run by the federal government." In fact, a Clinton campaign summary of her health-care program says: "In addition to the broad array of private options that Americans can choose from, they will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare." As New York Times reporters Michael Cooper and Julie Bosman noted in a May 3 article, "McCain has been repeatedly suggesting that his Democratic rivals are proposing a single-payer, or even a nationalized health-care system along the lines of those in countries like Canada and Britain. The suggestion is incorrect."
• Taxes. McCain has misleadingly claimed that Clinton is "going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars a year." In fact, Clinton's campaign website says that she would "[l]ower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC [earned income tax credit] and the child care tax credit." Clinton has expressed support for rolling back the Bush tax cuts on those making more than $250,000.
• Environment. On May 13, during a "tour" touting his environmental record, McCain said of his Democratic opponents: "They have never, to my knowledge, been involved in legislation nor hearings nor engagement on this issue. I have a long history. I've traveled around the world and seen the impacts of climate change." In concluding that McCain's statement was "false," wrote: "Perhaps McCain should check the co-sponsors of emissions-reducing legislation he introduced with Sen. Joseph Lieberman last year. Both Clinton and Obama were among those who signed on to the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act ... Last year, Clinton and Obama co-sponsored an even more ambitious plan called the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. If passed, it would require an 80 percent reduction to 2000 levels over the same time frame. Clinton, who sits on the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, has consistently supported legislation to combat global warming since joining the Senate in 2000." PolitiFact further wrote that it's "also curious that McCain mentioned his travels to see the impacts of climate change firsthand. In August 2004, Clinton was on the same trip as McCain to the fjords of Svalbard, a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean, where they took a mini-cruise to view the retreat of melted glaciers."
• Housing. On March 27, McCain released a statement regarding possible responses to the home mortgage crisis that stated: "[W]hat is not necessary is a multibillion-dollar bailout for big banks and speculators, as Sen. Clinton ... [has] proposed." In fact, Clinton -- who had days before made a speech about the housing crisis -- did not propose "a multibillion-dollar bailout" for "speculators." Clinton expressed support for proposals put forward by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) -- which respectively passed the House on May 8 and the Senate Banking Committee on May 20 -- that would authorize the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in homeownership retention loans for qualified homeowners. Both Frank's and Dodd's bills specifically limit access to retention loans to owner-occupied homes, not "speculators."

Additionally, McCain has a history of personal attacks against Hillary Clinton and her family. As Media Matters for America documented, during a November 2007 campaign event in South Carolina, when a questioner asked McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?" -- presumably referring to Hillary Clinton -- McCain called the question "excellent" and then pointed to a Rasmussen poll that he said showed him beating Clinton in a head-to-head matchup before saying, "I respect Senator Clinton." Media Matters has also documented several of McCain's personal shots at Clinton, including naming a nursing school's training dummy "Hillary" during an October 2007 campaign appearance in South Carolina. Further, in 1998, while appearing at a Republican fundraiser, McCain reportedly made what New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called "his disgusting jape": "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." McCain reportedly apologized to President Bill Clinton for the comment.”

Amen, Cheryl C. @ 8:02 !!!

~~~Viva La Hillary~~~

May God Bless America and May God Bless Us Every One.

And Lynn E @ 4:57 AM [?!?] --

Re: Your quote -- "The Los Angeles Times is a big critic of Hillary and their headlines often have a slant against her."

If they were favorable of Hillary [or even neutral {gasp!}, they would have never allowed the artwork that was in Sunday's editorial (6/8/08). I found it very degrading and didn't even want to read the editorial. And, of course !, I told them so. Perhaps whoever runs the show was out of the country when it went to print.

~~~Viva La Hillary~~~

You got it. Hillary supporters have a secret friendship with McCain as well! And if Obama doesn't pick Hillary as the OBVIOUS and ONLY choice for VP soon, Hillary's voters will establish a general election friendship with McCain. We very much appreciated how McCain pointed out that the voters did NOT pick the Democratic nominee. Instead, Obama and DNC ran Hillary off before convention. The ASSumed her voters would have to run to the far left with Obama. Now Obama is absorbing his DNC pals today into his campaign -- which he thinks keeps Hillary from becoming the nominee at convention if his poll numbers tank without HIllary voters, which they will! The DNC should be fired, not embraced! The Democratic Party is not fair to MOST of its voters who support Hillary. To vote McCain might be the ONLY way to clean out our party and start over with HIllary as president in 2012. A vote for McCain, indeed, might be the only way to take back our Democratic Party and throw the rats out!

Ann and Will Roberts

Hillary and John McCain obviously have a deep respect and trust for one another, even if they belong to different parties. During their senate years, they have both crossed party lines in support of one another.

Obama does not have enough years of legislating for either to have respect for the work he has done, because he has done nothing of consequence yet!

AND John McCain has shown more respect for Hillary's supporters than Obama or his campaign has! His campaign dismisses us by saying: "They'll come around... after all, Hillary has endorsed us".

Wanna bet on that?

This is not about "bipartisanship." This is about how Hillary is a corporate, opportunistic back-room dealer, and not loyal to true Democratic ideals. While this may not be unique to her in Washington, she tries to put forth a very different image of herself. Which makes her a liar. And not someone I'd want as President.

She is being FORCED to voice her support for Obama now, and it shows. I'm sure she'd rather have McCain win.

To Hillary CLinton:

You are not a true Democrat. Just read all the vile talk written by your "supporters" in these comments.

Can you blame Clinton? At least she got considerable more RESPECT from McCain than she ever will from teh Obamyopic campaign or The Leader of their ratpack. Remember Obama's contribution to misogyny in that infamous YuTube mega-hit where he insulted Clinton like a JayZ rapper perfiormer on stage in Carolina? View it:

"Obama Gives Hillary the Finger"!!

Then Obama donates $100,000 to campaign in Kenya for his marxist-Islamist SHARIA LAW cousin Odinga! AFter Odinga's thugs murdered and raped thousands there with Obama's money, they burned dozens churches and left 500,000 internally displaced Kenyans in this formerly democratic, Christian country!
Now that's Change we can believe in, eh Barack?!

Come November the bitter cure for OBAMYOPIA will be delivered to Him by that invisible Demographic that he has so insulted and stepped on since Day 1. Adios!

I agree. It's not surprising that they are friends. Two smart people with valuable leadership experience and capabilities and both realistic enough to recognize the flaws within their own parties. Both honorable individuals with unquestionable love for their country and a desire to restore it to greatness.
Can't say the same about Nobama.

Hillary in 2912.....NOT IF SHE IS COUNTING ON THE BLACK VOTES. We blacks can deal with defeat,unlike some of you entitled people.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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