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Thursday, May 24, 2001


"Statement by Senator John McCain on Senator Jim Jeffords

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "I am sorry to see Senator Jeffords, an independent, principled Senator, leave the Party. Despite occasional policy differences between us, I have long respected Jim Jeffords' integrity, and his conscientious service to his constituents and to the nation. He placed what he perceived as the national interest before partisan or personal interests, and though we may disagree over whether his positions on one or another policy question were the right course for our government or the country to take, he held those positions honorably and bravely. I wish him well and I look forward to continuing to work with him on issues important to our country.

"Although we have lost our majority in the Senate, I do believe Senator Jeffords' departure can have a positive impact on how our party responds to members who occasionally dissent from party orthodoxy. For his votes of conscience, he was unfairly targeted for abuse, usually anonymously, by short-sighted party operatives from their comfortable perches in K Street offices, and by some Republican members of Congress and their staff. Perhaps those self-appointed enforcers of party loyalty will learn to respect honorable differences among us, learn to disagree without resorting to personal threats, and recognize that we are a party large enough to accommodate something short of strict unanimity on the issues of the day. Tolerance of dissent is the hallmark of a mature party, and it is well past time for the Republican Party to grow up."