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It didn't take long for Sen. Joe Biden to adopt the Obama campaign talking points linking Sen. John McCain to President Bush.
At a rally in Springfield, Ill. celebrating Biden's selection as Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, the Delaware senator offered polite praise of McCain — "He served our country with extraordinary courage and I know he wants to do right by America" — but then criticized McCain for embracing Bush's policies.
"And these are John's words, (on) 'the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.' Ladies and gentlemen, that's what he said," Biden told the crowd.
The quote comes from a June 19, 2005, McCain appearance on NBC's Meet the Press in which host Tim Russert asked the senator about an article in the Arizona Republic that explored how McCain differed from Bush on many issues.
"The fact is," Russert said, "you are different than George Bush."
"No. No," McCain replied. "The fact is that I'm different, but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush."
McCain continued, "So have we had some disagreements on some issues, the bulk — particularly domestic issues? Yes. But I will argue my conservative record voting with anyone's, and I will also submit that my support for President Bush has been active and very impassioned on issues that are important to the American people. And I'm particularly talking about the war on terror, the war in Iraq, national security, national defense, support of men and women in the military, fiscal discipline, a number of other issues. So I strongly disagree with any assertion that I've been more at odds with the president of the United States than I have been in agreement with him."
The interview makes interesting reading today because several of Russert's questions are based on comments from another senator who had just returned from Iraq in June 2005 — Biden. And the interview actually focuses more on McCain's differences with Bush (on issues such as global warming, judicial nominees and stem cell research) than it does on topics they agree about.
But Biden is right that McCain said it. We rate his claim True.
New York Times, Transcript of Biden remarks in Springfield, Ill., Aug. 23, 2008
MSNBC, Meet the Press Transcript, June 19, 2005
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