Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Gerald Herbert  /  AP file
Potential presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will campaign in Iowa Saturday, skipping a Senate Iraq resolution vote his spokesman calls a 'stunt'.
updated 2/16/2007 12:26:51 PM ET 2007-02-16T17:26:51

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, a staunch supporter of sending more troops to Iraq, will skip a Senate vote on the war Saturday to campaign in Iowa while other candidates rearrange their schedules.

In control of the Senate, Democrats called the rare Saturday session for the procedural vote. They need 60 votes to advance a nonbinding resolution criticizing President Bush's plan to boost the number of U.S. forces in the nearly four-year-old war.

McCain, R-Ariz., has derided the Democratic move as political trickery. He backs Bush's plan, and his presence or absence would make no difference in the outcome of the vote. So, he plans to stick to his itinerary of three town hall meetings in Iowa, the early voting state in the primary process.

Stunt versus debate
"He thinks it's a political stunt that Harry Reid is pulling instead of having actual open debate on Iraq," said Eileen McMenamin, a McCain spokeswoman.

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Reid, the Senate's majority leader, needs Democrats and Republicans who oppose Bush's plan to stand with him to advance the legislation, prompting several other presidential hopefuls to cancel or postpone appearances to ensure they are in Washington.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., had planned to spend a full day in New Hampshire. Instead, she will host a town hall meeting in Dover, N.H., in the morning and then return to Washington to vote. An afternoon event had to be canceled, but aides say she still may return to New Hampshire in the evening for a house party in Portsmouth.

Another hopeful, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., campaigned in Iowa on Friday and will return to Capitol Hill on Saturday. He will head back to Iowa after the vote to attend a dinner in Davenport.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., was supposed to be in South Carolina on Saturday, but his campaign was considering sending a surrogate.

On the Republican side, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas had planned to be in Florida to attend the National Religious Broadcasters' convention but is cutting short his visit - even though he doesn't plan to side with Reid.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama will be able to fit the vote into his campaign schedule. The Illinois lawmaker was scheduled to appear at a Virginia Democratic Party dinner in Richmond on Saturday night.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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