Washington (CNN) – The John McCain of 2009 is singing a different tune than the John McCain of 2008.
On Thursday, the Arizona senator hammered the AARP on the Senate floor and on his Twitter account for supporting a proposal by Senate Democrats to cut millions from Medicare to help pay for health care legislation.
"I call on seniors to cut up their AARP cards and send them back to them!" McCain tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Endorsing Democrats in the health care fight seems to have changed McCain's thinking on the AARP, the nation's most influential senior lobby. During his 2008 presidential bid, the Republican nominee praised the group's leadership in some key policy battles.
"I say God bless AARP for everything they are doing, not only for the present generations of Americans, but for future generations," McCain told an AARP audience in September of last year. "That's your duty, that's your strength, and that's why I love to see you at every town hall meeting. And that's why I always try to let you talk."
McCain thanked the group for working with him on what he called "the big fights," citing tobacco legislation and campaign finance reform. "This organization has been an incredibly valuable contributor to the important discourses I just mentioned, and it's been there for decades, for decades," he said at the time.
Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for McCain, said his objection to AARP is based on what the group is doing now, not what they did in the past.
UPDATE: John Ashbrook, a spokesman for the Senate Republican Communications Center, points out that the AARP changed course from some of their past positions on Medicare cuts.
During the Clinton administration's push to reform health care, for example, the AARP expressed concerns about cutting Medicare as a way to pay for legislation.
'If we're talking about Medicare cuts alone as a way of financing health reform, we would fight that with all our strength - we've gone as far as we can go down that road," John Rother, the AARP director of federal legislation and policy, told the Los Angeles Times in 1993.