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article imageJohn McCain: Lobbyists are 'Birds Of Prey'

By Susan Duclos     Aug 21, 2008 in Politics
John McCain sat down with a The Politico reporter for a half hour after his town-hall style meeting and spoke about a variety of issues, one being lobbyist and earmarks, something he had been a longtime critic of. He called them "birds of prey".
A lobbyist is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of special interests. An earmark is legislation which provide funds to a specific special interest, usually that interest is in the home state of the politician which has been lobbied and has inserted the earmark into a bill.
John McCain has been a longtime critic of lobbyists and earmarks and in his career, first in U.S. House of Representatives where he served two terms, then in the U.S. Senate which he was elected as Senator of Arizona in 1986, easily winning reelection in 1992, 1998 and 2004.
In those years of his career, McCain has never met an earmark he liked and is one of the few politicians in Washington who has never earmarked what is called a pork-barrel project.
When he sat down with The Politico reporter, after a town-hall style meeting in New Mexico, right off the bat he made it clear he would not discuss his vice presidential pick and they describe him as clearly weary of the question.
What he did discuss was lobbyists and earmarks, making the comparison between himself and Barack Obama, pointing to the amount of money for earmarks Obama has asked for in his career, stating, "Senator Obama has asked for nearly a billion dollars in earmarked pork-barrel projects. And he rails against lobbyists? I’ve never taken a single one."
He also referred to lobbyists as "birds of prey".
McCain was asked about the lobbyists working for him and he asserts that anyone working in his administration would not be allowed to go back to lobbying and they would have to make a pledge agreeing to it.
He pointed to his own example to which he says, "I point out what my record is, which is one that has not won me Miss Congeniality over the years. People want change in America — we all know that — and very legitimately so.”
The senator went so far as to say: “Lobbyists don’t come to my office. Because they know they’re not going to be an earmark. They know they’re not going to get a pork-barrel project. Senator Obama’s gotten lots of ’em.:”
McCain’s plan for the strict admonition on future lobbying by White House aides is part of a policy he imposed on his campaign staff this spring after questions were raised about their past clients.
McCain maintains there are too many lobbyists in Washington and goes on to say they are "they are the symptom of a disease", declaring, "As long as you have earmarking and pork-barrel spending and bridges to nowhere and money for DNA of bears in Montana and museums and all that, then you’re going to have lobbyists.
“So it’s kind of entertaining to me to attack the lobbyists rather than the source of the problem, which is the earmark. They’d all be out of business – most of ’em would be out of business if we stopped pork-barrel and earmark spending.”
Despite the daily rhetoric from both campaigns, The Politico article mentions lobbying and the Russia/Georgia conflict were the rare times in the interview that McCain mentioned Obama.
On the topic of Russia and Georgia and Obama's response to the situation when it occurred, McCain draws other comparisons and he states he doesn't question Obama's patriotism but he does question his judgment. McCain's states for the record, "I have, and continue to question his judgment, whether it be his initial reaction to the Russian invasion of Georgia, or whether it be his failure to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded, or his opposition to nuclear power, among others. So I question the judgment. I don’t question the patriotism.”
Another topic he spoke about was the recent book "Obama Nation" which hit number 1 on the New York Times' best seller list, and has unsubstantiated personal attacks against Barack Obama and questions his ties to Islam, with McCain saying he was not comfortable with that type of attack helping his campaign. He also points out that he had previously condemned similar lines of attack.
He was referring to the commercials used in other campaigns which invoked Obama's longtime Pastor Jeremiah Wright after video emerged of him making controversial comments in his sermons, which McCain denounced at the time.
John McCain did admit that he has not read the "Obama Nation" book, so he could not comment directly to the content nor denounce the book outright.
The Politico report states that McCain "Punted on several opportunities to whack Obama".
They refer to when he was asked if Hillary Clinton would make a better president than Obama, to which he answered, "I don't know, " and when asked if he felt the United States would be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack under a President Obama than it would be under a President McCain, he responded with, "I’m sure that if Senator Obama were president of the United States, if the American people chose him to be their president, that he would act as a president who would get my full and complete support."
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