October 7th, 2008
11:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Has Obama never 'taken on' Democratic leaders?

Sen. McCain said Obama has never 'taken on' Democratic leaders.
Sen. McCain said Obama has never 'taken on' Democratic leaders.

The Statement
Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain said at the Oct. 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, that Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama has "never taken on his leaders of his party on a single issue."

Get the facts!

The Facts
Congressional Quarterly examined Obama's votes in the Senate. According to the analysis, Obama has voted with the Democratic Party 96 percent of the time during his tenure in the Senate.

CQ - a non-partisan and highly respected journal of congressional affairs - says McCain has voted in line with the Republican Party 86 percent of the time. McCain's total number of votes is much larger, since he has been in the Senate since 1986, while Obama is in his first term.

CQ also looked at what it deemed to be "key" votes. That analysis found Obama voted with his party on 29 out of 30 votes, which came out to 97 percent of the time. For McCain, CQ said there have been 335 "key" votes over the years, and that he voted with his party on 266 of them - 79 percent of the time.

However, the journal noted instances when Obama voted outside the party. In 2005, Obama was one of only 18 Democrats to vote in favor of a business-backed bill to limit class action lawsuits by forcing the most-expensive into federal court. The majority of Democrats voted against the bill, which was opposed by consumer groups and the trial lawyers lobby.

The journal also noted that Obama sided with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, who wanted greater disclosure of earmarks in an ethics bill, by voting against an attempt by Obama's home-state mentor, Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin, to kill DeMint's disclosure amendment.

And, Obama has criticized leading Democrats, including former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, for voting to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. However, many of those comments were made in the context of the Democratic primary campaign and that vote was prior to his time in the Senate.

Verdict: False. While McCain is correct that Obama has supported the Democratic leadership almost all of the time, to say he's never differed with them is not true.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain
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