WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 -- Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Richard Burr, R-N.C. (recently quoted as saying he'd be interested in the VP job); Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex.; Mel Martinez, R-Fla.; Sam Brownback, R-Kansas (who could be heard facetiously bragging about how he rallied the vote for McCain in Kansas, where McCain got crushed by Mike Huckabee); Susan Collins, R-Maine; Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia.
Two fun moments (if only we had the floor bugged!):
-- Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., 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 Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. 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.