How McCain Became a Senate Power

After 2000 defeat, he remade himself as master dealmaker
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2008 9:00 AM CDT
Senate Republicans takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 11, 2007, following defeat an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. From left are, Sen. Jon Kyl,...   (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
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(Newser) – Prior to his 2000 bid for the White House, John McCain spent more time mocking his fellow senators than compromising with them. But after his defeat, the Arizona legislator returned to the Senate with a softened demeanor and got down to the business of legislation. The New York Times looks at how McCain cuts deals with everyone from Democrats to his sworn enemies in his own party, and has become the Senate's most powerful member.

"Being the swing guy after 2000, he knew his turf was valuable, and he could use it to achieve things," said a longtime McCain adviser. The senator's supporters say his triangulations over the past 8 years prove that he can forge deals while sticking to his guns. But what some colleagues call shrewd, others call fickle. "You couldn’t tell which John McCain would come to work on any given day," said Dick Durbin.