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Sunday, September 7, 2008

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 09/07/2008 | McCain's history of hot temper raises concerns

WASHINGTON — John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.McCain called Cornyn's claim "chicken-s---," according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations."F--- you," McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, "It's his way or no way."There's a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.<snip>

...But as McCain ascended in politics, he began to acquire a reputation for hotheadedness. On election night 1986, then-Arizona Republican Party executive director Jon Hinz recalled, McCain was unhappy, even angry, even though he'd just won a U.S. Senate seat and his party had just made a virtually unprecedented sweep of state offices.

McCain had hoped that night would help launch him as a national figure. Instead, when the 5-foot-9 senator-elect spoke at the Phoenix victory party, the podium was too tall.

"You couldn't see his mouth," Hinz said.

A furious McCain sought out Robert Wexler, the Young Republican head in charge of arrangements.

"McCain kept pointing his finger in Wexler's chest, berating him," Hinz recalled. The 6-foot-6 Hinz stepped between them and told McCain to cut it out. "I told him I'll make sure there's an egg crate around next time," he said. McCain walked away angrily.

About a year later, McCain reportedly erupted again, this time at a meeting with Arizona's then-Gov. Evan Mecham, who was about to be impeached after being indicted on felony charges.

Karen Johnson, then Mecham's secretary and now an Arizona state senator, recalled how McCain told Mecham that he was "causing the party a lot of problems" and was an embarrassment to the party.

"Sen. McCain got very angry," Johnson recalled, "and I said, 'Why are you talking to the governor like this? You're causing problems yourself. You're an embarrassment.' "

Johnson would go on to work at three different jobs over the next five years, and she said that each time, McCain would contact her boss and try to get her removed.

The McCain campaign didn't respond to repeated requests for comment.

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 09/07/2008 | McCain's history of hot temper raises concerns

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