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February 23, 2007

John McCain lands in Boeing territory

Posted by Kristi Heim at 4:52 PM

"We cannot fear this new world ... we should embrace it."

Sen. John McCain made those comments today in reference to the global economy characterized by growing trade with Asia. But he might have been talking about the new world of the Pacific Northwest, in which Boeing is suddenly his ally.

At today's lunch, the man who has long been the leading congressional critic of Boeing mentioned it as a shining example of companies that have achieved success through exports to Asia.

Boeing was one of the event's three major sponsors (with Microsoft and Premera Blue Cross), so you couldn't help but notice the Boeing lunch table front and center and the huge Boeing poster on the wall.

Here are some more excerpts from McCain's speech:

"Wheat farmers in the eastern part of the state, fruit and vegetable growers throughout Washington, manufacturing giants like Boeing, software titans like Microsoft -- all of them benefit from and depend on foreign markets."
"Look at Boeing and their exports for what they've achieved. Free trade and Asia has had such an incredible impact here. Driving this economy here is relations with Asia."

Quite a different tack than when talking about the company in 2004, when McCain recalled spotting a footnote in the federal budget about a deal that smelled rotten.

As The Seattle Times' Alicia Mundy later wrote:

McCain and his two aides have outmaneuvered Air Force brass and Boeing's 35-person Washington lobbying operation in a classic Washington power play and a media blitz worthy of Madison Avenue.
McCain's efforts killed the deal and sparked criminal convictions; spurred the resignations of top Air Force and Boeing officials, including Boeing CEO Phil Condit; and brought to light the biggest Pentagon weapons scandal in 20 years.
"The deal did not pass the sniff test," McCain said. He exploded about it on the floor of the Senate in late 2001. Reluctantly, he agreed to a compromise at the end of 2002."

And more recently McCain has been questioning Boeing's $615 million federal settlement of its procurement scandals, demanding answers from Chief Executive James McNerney.

Funny, that topic didn't come up today.

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Tricia Duryee
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Kristi Heim
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