Chip Reid is Capitol Hill correspondent for CBS News.
Senn. John McCain was the center of attention when he made a rare appearance on the Senate floor this morning. Republican colleagues took turns – a couple even waited in line – to shake his hand and pat him on the back. He spent alot of time in serious conversation with some of his strongest supporters – Republican Senators Tom Coburn, John Thune, Richard Burr, (recently quoted as saying he'd be interested in the VP job), Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mel Martinez, Sam Brownback (who could be heard facetiously bragging about how he rallied the vote for McCain in Kansas, where McCain got crushed by Huckabee), Susan Collins, Saxby Chambliss.
Two fun moments (if only we had the floor bugged!): Sen. Ted Kennedy walked over to the Republican side of the floor and handed McCain a piece of paper. McCain started reading it and immediately started laughing out loud. A practical joke of some sort. They really are very friendly. McCain has been pulling the paper out and showing it to other senators – big laughs all around.
The best moment may have been McCain bumping into Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Cochran recently gave McCain a half-hearted endorsement, a couple weeks after telling reporters: "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." (They've had brutal battles over earmarks.) When McCain saw Cochran on the floor today he walked over and gave him a big back-slapping Senate hello, they talked for about 15 seconds, then embraced each other.
See, this really is a club.
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