Did McCain Almost Switch Sides?

Senator twice came to the brink of crossing party lines
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2008 7:39 AM CDT
John Kerry and John McCain shake hands on "Meet the Press" in this Sept. 16, 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo/Meet The Press, Alex Wong)
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(Newser) – John McCain has been feverishly polishing his conservative credentials lately, but the Republican nominee has twice flirted with crossing the aisle for good, the New York Times points out. In 2001, fresh from a bitter election battle with George W. Bush, he considered switching parties, and in 2004 he talked with John Kerry about sharing a presidential ticket.

In both cases Democrats say McCain approached them, while McCain’s people maintain it was McCain being pursued. In 2001 the matter dissipated when James Jeffords defected from the GOP, while in 2004, McCain ultimately demurred despite intense interest from Kerry. “What if something happens to you?” an aide recalls him telling Kerry. “Your party’s going to be pretty surprised about the kind of president they’re going to have.”