After years of competitive and often contentious dealings, President Bush and Senator John McCain of Arizona are building a deepening if impersonal relationship that is serving the political needs of both men.
Given their history of intense rivalry and sometimes personally bitter combat, their newfound partnership is seen by some Republicans as born more of political calculation than personal evolution. Either way, it could prove valuable to Mr. McCain in his efforts to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 by sending a signal to Mr. Bush’s conservative base and fund-raising network that, at a minimum, the White House will not stand in the Arizonan’s way.
The president had Mr. McCain to the White House three times in one week recently to talk about how Mr. Bush should make the case for the war in Iraq and how to break the wall of conservative opposition to the immigration measures proposed by both men. Mr. McCain was back in the Oval Office again on Tuesday to talk about ways to win approval of the line-item veto.
Behind the scenes, during a month in which he repeatedly came to Mr. Bush’s public defense, Mr. McCain called the president to offer words of support, he recounted in an interview.