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Biden endorses a fusion ticket:Kerry-McCain

One of the political season's most unusual ideas was pushed again Tuesday, this time by a  powerful Democrat in Congress: Sen. Joe Biden advocated a "unity" ticket of Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. John McCain.

One of the presidential nominating season's most unusual ideas was proposed again Tuesday, this time by one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, when Sen. Joseph Biden advocated a "unity" ticket of Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. John McCain.

Biden made his comments on MSNBC TV's "Hardball" when moderator Chris Matthews asked him: "Do you think McCain is seriously — and I mean this professionally — flirting with the idea of accepting a second place on the ticket with John Kerry, and creating a fusion ticket to run against the president?"

Replied Biden: "I think that this is time for unity in this country, and maybe it is time to have a guy like John McCain — a Republican — on the ticket with a guy he does like. They do get along. And they don't have fundamental disagreements on major policies."

The red and the blue
When asked by Matthews if he would support such a ticket, Biden said, "I would. Yeah, if John Kerry said that's who he wanted, and McCain — I'd encourage McCain to say yes. I doubt whether John would do it. I doubt whether John McCain would do it. But, you know, we need some unity here, man. The red states and the blue states — we've got to have something to coalesce around here."

The notion that a lifelong Republican like McCain would join the Democratic ticket is widely dismissed by many Washington observers, but McCain himself fanned the flames when he said last week on an ABC News show that he would "entertain" joining Kerry on the Democratic ticket.

"John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years," McCain said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday. "Obviously I would entertain it."

Trial balloon deflated
But the Arizona senator's chief of staff, Mark Salter, shot the idea down a short time later, saying that he had McCain's approval to firmly announce that "Senator McCain will not be a candidate for vice president in 2004."

And despite his close relationship with Kerry, McCain himself had cast such an invitation as highly unlikely. "It's impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk," he said.

Biden's endorsement of such a ticket Tuesday is likely to bring a fresh round of speculation in Washington. The Delaware Democrat is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and considered his own bid for the presidency this year.

Fairly bitter rivals
Writing for, NBC News analyst and Newsweek Senior Editor Howard Fineman pointed out that McCain and Bush have remained fairly bitter rivals since the 2000 campaign in which Bush beat McCain for the Republican nomination: "Truth be told, John McCain really can't stand George W. Bush, even if he agrees with him on a lot of things, especially Iraq."

In the primary campaign in 2000, Fineman wrote, "The good ol' boy supporters of the Bush team savaged McCain and his family, spreading vicious rumors about their character and racial makeup."

So despite remaining firmly in the GOP camp and even campaigning for the president, McCain isn't above tweaking Bush and his re-election team by pretending to consider a place on the Democratic ticket, Fineman explained.

As to whether or not it actually could happen, there's nothing in party rules to prevent it, according to a recent Slate piece.