McCain's Big Deal

Harsh words, strewn chairs and tobacco's lost G.O.P. friends mark a difficult negotiation

Senator John McCain stood in his office, his eyes squeezed into slits and his hands choking the back of a chair. "O.K., what? What?!" he barked. It was mid-morning on March 25, and two of his aides were telling him that the tobacco deal he had painstakingly negotiated among impossibly contrarian parties was disintegrating yet again--this time over how much authority the Food and Drug Administration should have to regulate tobacco products. McCain studied his hands for a moment, as if he were surprised to see the rubber band that he always keeps around his right wrist. Then he looked up....

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