Thursday, May 22, 2008

MCCAIN MAKES NICE WITH LOBBYISTS

JUSTIN ROOD, ABC - After a fervent round of anti-lobbyist posturing by John McCain provoked public grumbling from the K Street crowd, his presidential campaign quietly reached out to soothe their ruffled feathers, Roll Call newspaper reported. On Monday afternoon, campaign official Susan Nelson held a call with lobbyists who support McCain "to assuage their bruised egos and pass along positive polling data," according to the paper's account.

Sen. McCain, the likely GOP presidential nominee, has long portrayed himself as a political reformer with a uniquely stiff ethical backbone. Recently, however, reporters have drummed out a tattoo of stories creating an impression that lobbyists with conflict-of-interest problems had all but infested McCain's campaign, prompting a number of McCain's lobbyist supporters to resign from the campaign or take leaves of absence from their firms. Eventually, McCain's campaign announced a new conflict-of-interest policy for aides, volunteers and consultants, insisting it would not be tainted by the presence of the Gucci Gulch crowd.

The grumbling from K Street began almost immediately. "Lobbyists: This is our thanks?" blared the headline from the D.C. paper Politico Wednesday morning. "I find it a little offensive," said one nameless influence-peddler who had contributed heavily to McCain's campaign. "It was good enough to get my $2,300 donation. If we're not good enough, then send my check back. It pisses me off."

"McCain's self-righteous [expletive] has caught up with him," said anonymous lobbyist who volunteered for McCain, adding that McCain needed to change the subject to something other than lobbyists or risk losing their support. Not to worry, reports Roll Call. The campaign wants lobbyists to have warm fuzzies about McCain again. They also want their checkbooks open: two fundraisers are scheduled for Washington, D.C., in June, including a major event right by Capitol Hill.

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