The Corner

Romney: McCain Is “Washington’s Number One Watchdog Against Waste…A True Patriot”

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder points out a section in Mitt Romney’s Turnaround in which Romney praises John McCain as “Washington’s number one watchdog against waste.”  But there are even more good words for McCain in Turnaround.  Like this: “Over the years I have worked with him, I have come to understand that Senator McCain is a true fiscal watchdog but first and foremost he is a true patriot.”  Selections from the book:

Senator McCain in particular was irked to learn that in Atlanta federal troops were driving buses, standing at security posts, and docks.  As Washington’s number one watchdog against waste, he saw the Atlanta Olympics as a prime offender, and nothing in SLOC’s history suggested we would be any different.  After Atlanta, McCain championed legislation that specifically limited the involvement of federal troops at Olympics to public safety details…

Next, I went to see Senator John McCain. In the Olympic world, Senator McCain was viewed as the alter ego of Senator Stevens. Where Senator Stevens sought to protect the Olympics, Senator McCain had earned an unfair reputation of being out to destroy the Games. In reality, the Senator did not oppose the Olympics–he simply opposed the federal government paying for the Games, particularly when he saw any waste and abuse. And he had plenty of examples…

Senator McCain went ballistic. He fired off a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno telling her to recover the money from the World Cup organization. She sent back a sarcastic response pointing out that she could not recover the funding because the organization was only following he law and spending the money that Congress had directly appropriated to them. Since that time, Senator McCain had been a man on a mission. Every time an appropriation came up for an international sporting event — even the Special Olympics — he opposed it. Every time, he lost the vote. But he kept all future organizing committees on their toes justifying their funding and being extremely careful how they spent it…

Over the years I have worked with him, I have come to understand that Senator McCain is a true fiscal watchdog but first and foremost, he is a true patriot.

It’s interesting how this stuff is out there and nobody – including, unfortunately, me – thought to check it.  But now that it’s in wider circulation, do you think there is a chance we might hear Romney’s words repeated to him in tonight’s debate?  But of course, Romney’s endorsement of McCain, originally published in 2004, is just the bookend to McCain’s endorsement of Romney, in 2002, in Romney’s run for governor of Massachusetts.  Then, McCain told attendees at a Romney fundraiser, “We’ve got a great team here but it’s led by a man of honesty and integrity. It’s led by a man who is prepared to serve and a man who I have grown to know for his honesty, his decency and his commitment to America. I am proud to be in his company. Aren’t you?” and “In the state of Massachusetts, as the state of Arizona, tough decisions are going to have to be made. There is only one kind of person that can make those decisions and that’s a man of intellectual integrity and honesty and experience.”

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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