A McCain Mutiny?

Campaign Button for Sen. John McCain

Flirting with the enemy, or just causing mischief for Bush? hide caption

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Bill and Ernestine Bradley

Ernestine Bradley, like Teresa Heinz, was born overseas. hide caption

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Jerry Brown

Brown's win in the '92 Connecticut primary makes him the last Democrat to defeat Bill Clinton. From Ken Rudin's Collection hide caption

itoggle caption From Ken Rudin's Collection

Q: How do you know that Sen. John McCain would not consider running as the vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats (see Political Junkie, March 10, 2004, link below)? He isn't as young as he used to be, and President Bush isn't doing anything about McCain's favorite issue of election reform. I really wish that John Kerry would approach McCain on the quiet and find out for sure if he would take the second spot if offered. It would give the Democrats a better chance in November. Of course, it would destroy McCain's career if the Dems didn't win. — Jean Jones, San Antonio, Texas

A: I will never claim to know what's really going on with the senior senator from Arizona. McCain is up to something, but I don't think actively working for Bush's defeat as the Democratic candidate for vice president is it. He may still be bristling over how the Bush camp tore him to shreds in the 2000 South Carolina GOP presidential primary, and he doesn't hide his contempt for the Bush tax cuts or the record deficit. But running as Kerry's ticket mate? While first declaring that he would "entertain" such an offer, he later said there was "no scenario" in which he could imagine it happening... especially because, in his words, he is a "pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist deficit hawk." Not exactly part of the Kerry core vote. And so the opening seemed to close up.

Note: If you wish to be notified when a new Political Junkie is published, drop me a line at politicaljunkie@npr.org.

Also, when sending in a question, please be sure to include your city and state.

Then came the Bush campaign ads, in which the Massachusetts senator was portrayed as a soft-on-defense liberal. It was McCain who rushed to Kerry's defense, giving the Bush camp a real kick in the pants, starting up once again the rumors about McCain's true motives.

McCain is an independent thinker who probably enjoys the opportunity to engage in some payback for 2000 by torturing the Bushies. Still, sniping from the sidelines is one thing. I just can't see it going further than that.

Q: In the unlikely event McCain accepted a Kerry invitation to become his running mate, would McCain have to switch parties, or could Kerry/McCain run as a "split ticket?" — Tamar Stieber, Santa Fe, N.M.

A: McCain would not have to switch parties to run on a Kerry ticket. But if this was to occur — continuing with this hypothetical — McCain would most likely switch and become an independent. The Kerry-McCain ticket would run on the Democratic line. And McCain would probably forego his bid for re-election in Arizona; he is up for a fourth term this year as well.

Left unsaid: What do you think the reaction would be among all the Deaniacs and others on the left when they see their party just nominated an anti-abortion conservative as vice president? Can someone spell "Ralph Nader?"

Q: Teresa Heinz Kerry is a native African whose first language is Portuguese. If her husband is elected in November, will she be the first foreign-born first lady? — Kathleen Wheaton, Bethesda, Md.

A: No. That would be Louisa Catherine Johnson, the wife of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president. The future Mrs. Adams was born Feb. 12, 1775 in London; her father was the first U.S. consul in England. Louisa Catherine and John Quincy got married in England while Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Prussia. Mrs. Kerry — born Teresa Simoes-Ferreira on Oct. 5, 1938 in Mozambique to colonial Portuguese parents — would be the second.

Q: Driving to a soccer tournament last weekend, we crossed the Governor Johnson Bridge into St. Mary's County, Maryland. What can you tell me about Gov. Johnson? I have no memory of him. — Jason Greenberg, North Potomac, Md.

A: You wouldn't, unless you were 200 years old. Thomas Johnson was the first governor of Maryland, winning election in 1777 and serving two years. (Maryland didn't join the union until 1788, when it ratified the Constitution.) Prior to his election as governor, he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he strongly supported independence from England and was an ally of Gen. George Washington. It was Johnson who nominated Washington as commander-in-chief of the American forces in 1775. After independence, he served in the Maryland state assembly and later as chief justice of Maryland's state supreme court. In 1791, President Washington named him as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until 1793, resigning because of poor health. He died on Oct. 26, 1819.

This Day in Campaign History: Former California Gov. Jerry Brown wins the Democratic presidential primary in Connecticut, topping Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton by fewer than 3,000 votes. It is the last time Clinton would lose a primary (March 24, 1992).

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