The Gasp-Inducing Moment When McCain Voted 'No'

He'd left room when his name was called for repeal vote; re-entrance was dramatic
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2017 8:05 AM CDT

Anyone watching Senate proceedings on the GOP health care bill in the wee hours of Friday morning got a master class in the study of body language. CNN notes the tense activity in the chamber in the minutes before the 49-51 vote that Hot Air says brought to a "stunning, gasping, and mavericky end" the Republicans' shot at a "skinny" repeal of ObamaCare. Reporters watched from the gallery above, scrutinizing who was hovering together, analyzing senators' facial expressions, and even trying to read lips—especially those of Sen. John McCain, who'd apparently "made up his mind to vote 'no' well before he walked into that chamber," per CNN, looking back "in hindsight." First, there was the fact that as other GOP senators started filtering into the room, "none would approach" McCain.

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, the other two "no" votes, eventually did, and the three seemed animated and peppy (McCain even seemed to mouth "I promise" to Murkowski). But the most dramatic moment came when the vote got underway, with everyone waiting for the roll call clerk to get to the M's. For viewers at home, it didn't seem like McCain answered when his name was called—but that's because McCain had left the room, and when he came back in, right around the time Gary Peters was casting his vote, McCain strolled to the front of the chamber, held his right arm up, got the clerk's attention, and then turned his thumb to the floor, saying: "No." (See the shocked gasps and scattered applause in the chamber from that exact moment.) Perhaps this drama shouldn't have come as a surprise: Per the Washington Post and Mashable, when McCain arrived at the Senate floor shortly after midnight, he cryptically told reporters: "Wait for the show." (Read more John McCain stories.)

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