The Note: McCain vs. McCain

Surely Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants to pass an immigration bill; he's in too deep to walk away now. But he didn't do his bill any favors by launching a (quite premeditated) attack on former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., a prominent critic of McCain's immigration plan.

"Maybe his solution will be to get out his small-varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn," McCain said yesterday. It was a great sound bite, a made-for-the-blogosphere line that highlights several Romney vulnerabilities, even if it does point to McCain's famously short fuse. But with the sweeping immigration measure already under attack from all sides, the last thing it needed was presidential mud-flinging.

The Republican presidential candidates are divided on the immigration bill, the Democrats cautiously lukewarm. Congress, while not quite stuck (yet), is responding to powerful interests on the left and the right who want the bill defeated. Scores of amendments are being filed with the real intention of killing the bill, not strengthening it. And yesterday's decision to extend the debate beyond the Memorial Day break "will allow opposition to gather strength before a final vote," Jonathan Weisman writes in The Washington Post. LINK

The McCain-Romney spat is unlikely to help. Romney may be OK with that, since he wants the bill to die anyway, but McCain shouldn't be. Where's the political upside in taking a controversial stand and having nothing to show for your efforts? Already, McCain's intensity on this issue is catching him heat: The Los Angeles Times' Ralph Vartabedian and Michael Finnegan write up McCain's "shouting match" with bill opponent Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to ask "whether McCain's legendary temper is becoming a liability to his campaign for the presidency." (McCain's words this time were choicer -- worthy, McCain might even argue, of a "drunken sailor.") LINK

The fight comes at a good moment for Romney, who is riding high from recent polls and probably doesn't mind more attention being paid to his immigration position, even if it hasn't been all that consistent over the years. Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune writes that "all is going according to plan" for the former governor -- and scored an interview with the candidate at Fenway Park, where he rapped the Bush administration for its Iraq war missteps. LINK

With the Democratic field still tearing itself up over the war, Al Gore is grabbing headlines for another day as he makes the rounds touting his latest book. The former vice president is saying he's not running while still not entirely ruling out a run -- and sure seems to be enjoying the attention. ABC's Jake Tapper reads Gore's book as "so nakedly political and sharply critical it's hard to discern what his plans may be." "Gore sheds his inner Marshall McLuhan for his inner Michael Moore," Tapper writes. LINK

Also today:

The price for a speech about poverty? Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., raked in $55,000 for his appearance last year at the University of California at Davis, a publicly funded school where tuition is going up 7 percent this year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's political blog. His topic: "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America." Former president Bill Clinton got nearly twice as much for a 2002 speech at UC Davis, but Edwards can't shake free of this do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do narrative. LINK

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