January 19th, 2009
05:12 PM ET
13 years ago

John McCain to seek higher-profile role

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/18/art.mccainreelect.gi.jpg caption="McCain is seeking a higher-profile role."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bump into John McCain in a Capitol hallway these days, and you’re lucky if you get anything beyond a polite hello. Ask him a question on any policy or political issue, and he will almost always decline comment, and keep moving.

But the former Republican presidential nominee is not planning to keep a low profile for long.

CNN has learned that McCain may get seats on an unusually high number of key Senate committees, so that he can engage on a wide range of high-profile issues before Congress, and his formal rival in the White House.

“He wants to be a player,” McCain’s good friend, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told CNN in a phone conversation.

“He feels an obligation to the people of Arizona and the rest of the country to use his time in the Senate to be productive.”

For example, three sources close to McCain say he is hoping to secure a seat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in order to work with its Democratic chairman, Ted Kennedy, on health care reform.

McCain has worked across the aisle with Kennedy on several controversial issues, like immigration reform and a patients’ bill of rights. But he also differed sharply with Barack Obama during the campaign on how to reform the country’s health care system. McCain wanted to move away from employer based health care, and opposed the Obama plan to expand on the current system.

Sources also say McCain is hoping to sit on the Homeland Security Committee, chaired by his good friend Joe Lieberman, and the Energy Committee, so that he can work closely with the Obama administration on a high priority area where they do have common ground: fighting global warming.

A Senate GOP leadership source tells CNN that their final committee assignments will not be complete until Wednesday or Thursday, and it is still not clear if McCain will get seats on these committees.

However the GOP source insists “the more things McCain wants to be involved in, the better for us.”

McCain has already been quietly engaged with the Obama team on issues relating to his most high profile Senate role –- ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.

McCain sources say that he had concerns about Dennis Blair as Director of National Intelligence, and sent a list of detailed questions for Blair to answer before the Obama team formally announced his nomination.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Robin in SC

    The right man will be President tomorrow, but McCain is valuable in his own ways in the Senate and I'm glad to see he's not just finishing out his term with his tail between his legs. His career has been sprinkled with memorable moments and real contributions to our government and our country. I'm glad he won't leave with his head hung because of his failed presidential bid(s).

    January 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Democrats RULE

    Sounds more like he wants to be an "OBSTRUCTION" it progress.

    January 19, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Griff

    "Good for you" John.

    January 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. John G

    Hey look a Senator who is actually doing something...that is news!

    Most of the Senate is too busy basking in the reflected glow of Obama's limelight right now to do anything useful so it's good to see someone (especially a high profile member of the Senate like John McCain) getting down to the nitty gritty and doing some work.

    I am currently waiting with bated breath for the Democrats to come in here and show us how mad they are that they won by attacking John McCain on important things like his age...

    January 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. Democrats RULE

    Sounds more like ole' McCain wants so much to be a constant "THORNE" in Obama's back side.

    January 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Outspoken

    Of course! He is being rewarded by the democrats for being such a lousy, pathetic presidential candidate. Obama is sooooo in debt to this little scoundrel. Romney, Huckabee, Guiliani, Thompson.......ANY OF THEM would have beaten Obama like a rented mule. The republican primary voters walked right into the trap the media set for them by nominating this guy.

    January 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. WIlly Brown

    Go away John. You are no Mavrick anymore. Your just and old nag.

    January 19, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Mark

    After seeing McCains antics during the presidential run, I would not trust his judgment or decision making on any important issues. He wants to be in control because Obama whipped his can. He's just like Bush and wants to get even. Like Bush going into Iraq to finish his Daddys business. Send McCain to the retirement home.

    January 19, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. Rob W - Bethesda, MD

    This is good news. McCain has a lot to offer. Tragically the republicans with their Bush-blinders didn't put McCain in office when they should have and when folks like myself were more than ready to vote for him (ie. in 2000 & 2004). They instead waited until it was too late and America needed even more significant change than McCain had to offer. That being said, it'll be good to have McCain stepping up his service by playing an even more significant role in the Senate. Best wishes Senator.

    January 19, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Kristen

    obama rules!! good luck in the new year Obama!!

    January 19, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Independent for Obama

    At best, McCain wants to make a real difference and re-write his own history , not as a loser but as a true "uniter". At worst he will be used by the Republican party who, right now, are completely impotent and unimportant to 75% of Americans....They are desperate to rebrand their party and they may use McCain's stance as a moderate helper-to-the-Democrats to manipulate themselves back into a state of influence.
    Janie Springfield MA

    January 19, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I'm glad John McCain is going back to the John McCain of old...a centrist. He didn't quite fit the current extremist Republican model and seemed to be having an identity crisis during the campaign. Hopefully, the Republicans will reshape themselves into a party worthy of political dialogue with TRUE conservatism like fiscal responsibility, a smart defense (like making sure to go to war for the right reasons and fully equipping soldiers) and finally more embracing of other races and religions in America.

    I'm not Republican but the current versions are scary. I don't' think Reagan was a great president but he was the last somewhat reasonable Republican that could participate in a debate without being ignorant or uncivil.

    January 19, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Pat

    This confirms the mental condition of this cretin. He should be burrowing into some hole somewhere after inciting crowds against Obama, calling our President "that one", and not ever looking Obama in the eye during his (McInsane's) disgusting campaign.

    The spirit of this inauguration must be eating away at him.

    January 19, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  14. Fred Heartly

    Romney, Huckabee, Guiliani, Thompson... Are you kidding LOL. Romney is the last person we need now, Huckabee is a Relgious Whack nut, Guiliani is a Moron and Thompson...well Dong Dong comes to mind. Look we need some very creative and smart ideas to get this country on track and none of the above has any. If we do not bring our jobs back to America we will tail, you know the repuke mantra we all have to work. I agree, now get the jobs back and lets get to work. Not just the people who live off of the froth of others hard work pumping and dumping stock.

    January 19, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. budburgoonclark

    Senator McCain, the country thanks you for your heroic sacrifices and years of service. Now it's time for you to retire and enjoy your family.

    January 19, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. McCain Blew It

    John McCain's lackluster campaign is the reason the GOP lost the White House. He can do whatever he wants to rehabilitate his image, but I'll never forgive him for handing the presidency to an unqualified liberal.

    January 19, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. momto3

    Pat, Did you REALLY just bring up the old "this one,that one" line? Everyone knew then as they know now what McCain was saying. Or did you miss all of that and you're just spewing hatred!! The spirit of the Inauguration you say, you do mean the Hollywood arrival of our soon to be President right? Our President should be above this kind of spectical he's making costing our country about $170 million. But what does he know about economics, he couldn't even buy his own house by himself.

    January 19, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. neurotype

    Still waiting for McCain from 2000...you know, the one with principles. Hopefully he's given up this absurd appeal to social conservatism.

    January 19, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    shut up and stop making vile comments. What have u done to make the economy better?

    January 20, 2009 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  20. McKinney from NC

    It's hard not to wonder how different things might have been had McCain been elected in 2000 - instead of "delaying the coronation" as he so aptly put it. Alas we'll never know - so it's full speed ahead Johnny, and God bless ye! –Sign me another non-partisan for America

    January 20, 2009 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  21. Mike falbo

    Ots seems like the old mccain a friend of democrats and republicans alike is returning the man I and many will always respect is going to have

    January 20, 2009 06:25 am at 6:25 am |