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McCain Is Considering Leaving GOP; Arizona Senator Might Launch a Third-Party Challenge to Bush in 2004
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Author: Thomas B. Edsall and Dana Milbank
Date: Jun 2, 2001
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION
Text Word Count: 1566

[John McCain]'s outspoken support of campaign finance reform and other legislation favored by Democrats has turned him into a pariah among conservatives. On FreeRepublic.com's "Conservative News Forum," McCain is referred to as "Komrade McCain," "McLame" and "McBigHead." Contributors to the Web site regularly challenge the patriotism of the former prisoner of war: "The man, far from being the war hero he pompously claims to be, was actually a traitor."

White House officials adamantly deny the charges and offered a detailed rebuttal of the complaints. They provided a list of McCain donors and supporters who have gotten high-level administration jobs, and they contended that a contribution to McCain is not treated as a "red flag." Some of McCain's top advisers, White House officials said, are perpetually portraying themselves as "victims" of power wielded unfairly by [Bush].

McCain's agenda, and that of a prospective McCain-led third party, is a hawkish foreign policy, domestic reform and a call for universal national service for young Americans. McCain sees each party held hostage by its base -- Democrats wedded to entitlements and Republicans dominated by corporate interests -- thus leaving room for a centrist populism.

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