>By David Lightman and Matt Stearns | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.
Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.
McCain called Cornyn’s claim “chicken-s—,” according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.
“F— you,” McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.
It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, “It’s his way or no way.”
There’s a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.
McCain observers say the incidents have been blown out of proportion.
“I’ve never seen anything in the way of an outburst of temper that struck me as anything out of the ordinary,” said McCain biographer Robert Timberg.
“Those reports are overstated,” said Rives Richey, who attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., with McCain in the early 1950s.
Historians point out that it’s not unusual for a president to have a fierce temper, but most knew how to keep it under control.
“Harry Truman wrote scathing letters, but he almost never sent them,” said author Robert Dallek.
“George Washington spent a lifetime trying to control his temper,” added historian Richard Norton Smith.
But Washington didn’t have YouTube replaying videos of his tantrums, nor did he have to make decisions about nuclear weapons.
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