WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The message of unity presumptive Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain offers differs with two times he was at odds with his party, insiders say.
McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, rarely mentions 2001 discussions with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party and 2004 conversations with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., about possibly becoming Kerry's running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket, The New York Times reported Monday.
Democrats say McCain reached out to them; McCain's campaign said the opposite was true.
"There were times when he rose to the occasion and showed himself to be a real pragmatist," said Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the former Senate Democratic leader who met with McCain in 2001 about switching parties.
McCain's actions came in the wake of the 2000 presidential race. Angry about what he believed was a smear campaign in South Carolina, among other things, Democrats said McCain's aides approached them about switching parties, the Times reported.
McCain's aides said Democrats approached McCain about switching parties. Mark Salter, one of McCain's advisers, said McCain, never took the idea of leaving the party seriously.
Concerning the potential Kerry-McCain ticket, McCain said last month that he dismissed the offer out-of-hand because of divergent political views.