The Republican Party is planning to roll out a number of its stars at its convention this week, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
President Bush considers the popular senator to be an asset to the campaign, but McCain is also a former opponent of Bush, a friend of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, and a vigorously independent advocate for the issues he holds dear.
Peter Jennings interviewed McCain about his feelings about Bush, the war in Iraq, the 2004 presidential election, and whether he has his own plans for pursuing the presidency. The following is an excerpt of that interview:
JENNINGS: Senator, it looks to a great many people like you and President Bush have had a reconciliation. Was there a need for you to reconcile?
MCCAIN: No, Peter. After the 2000 primary, we met two months after it, and resolved our differences. I campaigned strongly for him in 2000. I campaigned for Republican candidates in 2002. I campaigned for him in January, back in New Hampshire. So there's a bit of mythology that we've had some kind of reconciliation. And finally, no matter what happened in the year 2000, it is absolutely non-productive to look back in anger at anything that happened, and I wouldn't be serving my constituents by having something that happened four years ago dictate my behavior.
JENNINGS: Was it easy to get over that anger?
MCCAIN: It took a couple of months. That's why I took a couple of months to meet him in Pittsburgh. And it's awful easy to feel sorry for yourself. I do it all the time. But I figured that it would not be a good thing to do because it would then impact my ability to serve the country. And Americans don't like a sore loser, either, as you well know.
JENNINGS: But you've not been very well-treated by the Bush administration in these last four years. And you have been out of step with the administration on a good deal of policy. What's changed?
MCCAIN: Well first of all, I have been with him on the major issue of our time, which is the war on terrorism, which has transcended my view. Second of all, I'm with him on a number of issues — free trade, for example, and ardent free trade, and deregulation and many others. Have we disagreed on some big issues? Yes. Have we agreed on more issues than we've disagreed on? Yes.
JENNINGS: Do you take some satisfaction from the fact that the Bush administration now needs you?
MCCAIN: No, I don't. I think what I have to look at is the future of the country. I am a friend of John Kerry's. I think he'd be a good president. I think this president proved himself with his leadership after Sept. 11th, and his strength, and his ability to lead the country.
JENNINGS: Well, what are the things in the last four years about the president's policies that you really admire?