On the stump, McCain has repeatedly claimed that passing a package was a priority for him. Yet his missed vote yesterday was not an accident due to a late flight or scheduling conflict. It was deliberate. Some evidence:
1. He was already thinking about skipping the vote yesterday afternoon. Yesterday afternoon, hours before the vote, he hinted to reporters that he might not return to the Senate that evening. “I haven’t had a chance to talk about it at all, have not had the opportunity to, even,” McCain said. “We’ve just been too busy, focused on other stuff. I don’t know if I’m doing that.”
2. His plane landed in DC with plenty of time to make the vote. McCain’s plane landed at Dulles Airport at 5:00 p.m., “leaving plenty of time to make the 5:45 p.m. make or break procedural vote.”
3. The other senators on his plane returned for the vote. ThinkProgress has confirmed with Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) office that both he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were on the same plane with McCain. Yet both Lieberman and Graham returned to the Senate in time to cast votes. (Lieberman voted for the stimulus, Graham voted against.)
McCain’s move was certainly not a profile in courage. His spokeswoman said that the senator would have voted against the package anyway. By missing the vote, however, he didn’t have to go on record denying benefits to 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled vets — both key blocs of support for his campaign.
As ABC’s Jake Tapper notes, “In fact, in the 110th Congress, out of 450 votes, McCain missed 56.7% of them. The only one who missed more was a senator who had a brain hemmorhage.”