WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. John McCain launched his first attack in the year-end budget battle Saturday, targeting not just President Clinton and Democrats but Republicans as well, urging voters to kick out legislators who spend the budget surplus on pork-barrel projects.
In the weekly GOP radio address, the Arizona senator and former presidential hopeful said Clinton is more interested in making Republicans look bad in negotiations than holding down government spending in a fiscally responsible budget.
"He simply wants to run up the score in his budget battles with us even if that means turning today's surpluses into tomorrow's deficits," McCain said. "The president is a charming fellow and a heck of a salesman. But I wouldn't buy a used car from him if I were you."
McCain said the government shutdown five years ago gave Democrats an excuse to blame Republicans for any budget impasse, leaving the president a free hand to push through more spending.
But while McCain thumped Democrats, he kept his maverick image intact by laying into Republican big spenders as well. Legislators frequently push through spending bills benefiting their own states and districts.
"I won't support a bill that risks our future for short-term political gains, whether Democrats or Republicans are responsible," he said. "If in a few weeks, administration and congressional negotiators emerge from a smoke-filled room carrying another huge, pork-barrel spending bill, I'll vote against it, and I'll ask you to vote against it too, on Nov. 7, Election Day."
Senate Republican leaders drafted McCain to lend his broad support -- apparent from a presidential bid that made him popular among independents and some Democrats -- to the budget fray.
But before he would accept the job, McCain laid out his requirements, saying the final spending bills must have no pork-barrel projects.
He also said he'd oppose any riders -- provisions attached to spending bills that change the law. Riders are frequently too controversial to survive as separate legislation, such as abortion rights or gun control. A particularly sensitive rider can hold a spending bill hostage.
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