"Tonight, the president of the United States is going to throw down the gauntlet to these pork-barrel appropriators and say, 'We're not going to spend any of that money that's in these committee reports,'" McCain told an airport rally in Orlando, Fla., this afternoon. "My friends, watch the reaction of some of these pork-barrel appropriators in Congress. You're going to think it's the end of Western civilization as we know it. Watch them!"
For McCain, who's railed against federal spending for years (and who still makes the Ted Stevens "bridge to nowhere" part of every stump speech), Bush's move on earmarks gives him a chance to embrace the president on an issue besides the war in Iraq. That might not ordinarily sound like such a great thing, but McCain is trying to shake skepticism about how committed he is to the GOP as he battles Mitt Romney in Florida and in Feb. 5 states. And while he hasn't yet quite taken credit for Bush's new stance on spending, don't be surprised if that idea creeps into McCain's rhetoric.
Of course, whether the White House really follows through on the earmarks business is another matter; one of the great laments of conservative activists during Bush's entire term in office has been his reluctance to veto legislation loaded with pork.