Frequently at odds with his own party and President Bush, U.S. Sen. John McCain spent the weekend tamping down speculation that he would turn Independent and run for president in 2004.
It wasn't easy, and the Arizona Republican even got a phone call from Bush.
McCain and his wife, Cindy, were hosting the incoming Senate Majority leader, Democrat Tom Daschle and his wife, Linda, at their cabin in Sedona. Along with the Daschles were Bruce Reed, the domestic policy adviser under President Bill Clinton; and Reed's wife, Bonnie.
In the midst of the visit Saturday morning, Bush called McCain to ask about reports that he was considering leaving the GOP just as Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont did last month.
Jeffords' move threw control of the Senate into Democratic hands and prompted McCain to admonish his party to "grow up."
McCain told Bush he had no intention of leaving the party, and Bush invited McCain to get together June 11.
"The president didn't have a doubt and looks forward to working with Sen. McCain," White House spokesman Gordon Johndrow said.
McCain's maverick ways have sparked intense speculation about his plans.
It is no secret in political circles that McCain was offended by some Bush campaign tactics during the rough-and-tumble 2000 presidential primary.
In the Senate, McCain frequently co-sponsors legislation with Democrats, to White House annoyance.
But in an interview with the Chicago Tribune earlier this year, McCain shut the door on a future presidential bid.
On Saturday, his advisers concurred.
"Sen. McCain has not talked with his advisers, family, friends or strangers about running for president in 2004," said John Weaver, McCain's political adviser.
McCain's office also issued a statement denying a party switch or that presidential plans were in the works.
"It's not an option on the table, and he has no intention to leave the GOP," Weaver said.
He said the McCains are social friends with the Daschles, who have stayed at the cabin before.
He said McCain became friendly with Reed when the senator joined forces with the Clinton White House to fight the tobacco industry.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun