January 19th, 2009
01:33 PM ET

McCain wants back in the game

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Dana Bash | BIO
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

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 Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, 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: Dana Bash • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    As one voice in the popular vote who still thinks McCain was a better choice for president, I'm breathing a little easier if he has some input into these major, major issues facing our nation. The years of experience and bipartisan leadership McCain brings to the table are untouchable. The nation wins with his expertise and day to day involvement in the process of change for America. Here's hoping the powers that be see what great things he can do for our nation still.

    January 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  2. Cindy

    Oh...I never once thought that John would slink off into the night after his loss to be heard from no more. He will do as he has always done in congress. He will fight for what he thinks is right no matter how controversial. And he will get things done as he always has.

    I think that Obama will use him to help get things through congress also since he does respect his service to our country and what he has accomplished in the senate.


    January 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  3. Louise

    Why does he just not go away. After his treatment of Obama during the election he should not be given any committee assignments.

    January 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Excellent. I voted for Obama, but welcome Senator McCain's leadership. He is an asset to the administration and the country.

    January 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  5. eual

    you go John !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm |