Friends or Foes? Bush & McCain's Rocky History

"One senior Bush adviser downplayed the importance of McCain's support, saying the Bush campaign 'wants' it rather than 'needs' it. The adviser says bit is better to have everyone in the tent rather than not, but that he believes many of McCain's Republican supporters have already come over to Bush, and that Bush right now has an edge among independents. "

McCain is expected to enter the hotel through a public doorway, apparently by his choice. There could be a chance to grab video of him then. One other note of interest — there was only one podium set up for McCain and Bush to share for the joint news conference.

On May 9, 2000, the two men met at the William Penn hotel in Pittsburgh. It was awkward. Really awkward.

Here are some excerpts from their news conference:

Bush: John McCain and I just had a very good meeting. I guess it's the nature of American politics that we would meet and walk into a room with over 100 people to hear how the meeting went.

McCain: I look forward to enthusiastically campaigning for Governor Bush for the next six months between now and November. I believe it is very important that we restore integrity and honor to the white house. I'm convinced that Governor Bush can do that more than adequately. (Can you feel the love? More than adequately???)

How did it feel for McCain to be there?

McCain: I think take the medicine now is probably a good description.

Did the question of putting McCain on the ticket come up?

Bush: I asked his advice about the vice presidency.

McCain: And I asked that I not be considered for vice president of the United States. (Feel the love???)

At one point, it seemed McCain was trying to avoid using the word "endorse." He had a hard time getting the word out of his mouth.

Question: Why do you have difficulty with using the word endorsement?

McCain: I endorse Governor Bush … I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush!!!!!!

But he didn't look like he liked it one bit.

On May 10, 2000, I wrote: "Bush aides toed the line after the Bush/McCain meeting on Tuesday. Communications Director Karen Hughes and Ari Fleischer toured the filing center in Pittsburg, assuring reporters they were perfectly happy with McCain's endorsement and not at all displeased by McCain's demeanor or use of language. Most advisers (particularly ones not in the press shop) did NOT return phone calls or e-mails looking for comment and analysis on the meeting. They were unusually quiet, perhaps on purpose."

As uncomfortable as it might have been, there was one strange footnote to the meeting.

On May 10, I wrote: "In addition to the McCain meeting Tuesday, Bush met one-on-one with another person with whom he has a complicated past. Mets manager Bobby Valentine paid a courtesy call on Bush at his hotel. The Mets are in Pittsburg playing the Pirates. Valentine was fired as manager of the Texas Rangers back when Bush was in charge of the team. Despite the firing, Bush insists, "V's always been on board."

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