WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate John McCain skipped a difficult Senate vote Wednesday on whether to make 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans eligible for rebate checks as part of a proposed economic stimulus package.
The Arizona senator’s decision to miss the vote appeared to come at the last minute, after his plane had landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington just before the proceedings opened on the Senate floor.
Asked Wednesday morning to comment on the pending vote, McCain talked about the need to pass a stimulus measure quickly. Later, on his plane, he said he was not sure he would make the vote.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk about it at all, have not had the opportunity to, even,” McCain said. “We’ve just been too busy, focused on other stuff. I don’t know if I’m doing that. We’ve got a couple of meetings scheduled.”
Whichever way McCain may have voted, it would have been a difficult choice given his status as the Republican presidential front-runner.
President Bush and Republican leaders, as well as conservatives McCain was scheduled to woo today, vehemently oppose the expanded benefits and subsidies.
But voting “no” with Republican leaders would have offended millions of Social Security recipients and the disabled veterans not scheduled to receive rebates.
For McCain, not voting meant not going on the record either way.