Arianna Huffington says John McCain told her shortly after the 2000 election that he didn’t vote for George W. Bush, McCain’s camp now denies this which prompted this funny rejoinder from Huffington about McCain’s history of denying he did things he clearly did:
He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry’s ’04 running mate — then later admitted he had, insisting: “Everybody knows that I had a conversation.” He denied admitting that he didn’t know much about economics, even though he’d said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun. He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record. He denied that he’d ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.
Clearly, I don’t know what McCain did or didn’t do in the voting booth in 2000, but considering the position she was taking at the time it does seem like the logical thing to do would have been for McCain to support Gore. In 2000, after all, Bush’s signature initiative was a tax cut proposal that, at at the time, McCain opposed — just like Gore. Similarly, McCain’s signature initiative was a campaign finance reform proposal that Bush opposed but Gore favored. On foreign policy, I don’t think a clear differentiation emerged between Bush and Gore, but many construed Bush’s rhetoric as calling for a retrenchment of American commitments abroad at a time when McCain was calling to expand them and adopt “rogue state rollback” as a signature issue. Gore’s running mate was Joe Lieberman, who’s clearly someone McCain adores. As a career Republicans, you could imagine McCain deciding he couldn’t possible vote for Gore and just not voting, but considering the issue positions and personal bitterness why would McCain have voted for Bush?
The issue landscape has changed a lot in eight years with Democrats generally moving left on domestic issues while McCain’s moved right and seen the GOP mainstream line up with his previously idiosyncratic brand of apocalyptic nationalism even as the once-pressing McCain-Feingold issue has come to look trivial. But in the past McCain voting for a Democrat was quite plausible — after all, he soon went on to discuss switching parties, to discussing being Kerry’s VP nominee, etc.