McCain's maverick status questioned

Aug. 11, 2008 at 1:32 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential candidate John McCain is not the maverick he once was, Democratic critics are saying.

During GOP primaries this year, McCain moved toward the party's center, including switching his opposition to President Bush's tax cuts and patching up relationships with religious leaders he once denounced as "agents of intolerance," the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. Now the Arizona senator's campaign advertisements of his "original maverick" status are being questioned.

"The price he paid for his party's nomination has been to reverse himself on position after position," Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told voters at a recent Elkhart, Ind., town hall meeting. "And now he embraces the failed Bush policies over the last eight years -- politics that helped break Washington in the first place. And that doesn't exactly meet my definition of a maverick."

But McCain strategists say they have no problem continuing to sell their case.

"Sure he's been in Washington 26 years, but he's always been a reformer, always worked across party lines, sacrificed his own political interests to do so," top adviser Charles Black said. "So we were always going to have to tell that narrative because some people know it, but not everybody."

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