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McCain breaks with Obama, calls for Mubarak to step down now

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) just became the most senior foreign-policy figure in Washington to outwardly call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power now. "Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres. Mubarak 2 step down & relinquish power. It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people & its military," he tweeted ...

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) just became the most senior foreign-policy figure in Washington to outwardly call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power now.

"Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres. Mubarak 2 step down & relinquish power. It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people & its military," he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

McCain, who met with President Obama at the White House Wednesday, went further than either the administration or Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who have called for Mubarak not to run again for president but have stopped short of calling for him to relinquish power at this time.

The message from McCain was not some coordinated communications strategy cooked up with the White House, according to our sources, but simply represented McCain’s latest analysis of the ever worsening situation on the ground in Egypt and the handling of the crisis by Mubarak and his regime.

Only yesterday, McCain was supporting the administration’s official line. On Tuesday, he praised Obama’s call for Mubarak to begin an orderly transition to democracy and to not run for reelection.

"I’m not going to try to second-guess the president at this difficult time," McCain told reporters. "I think there should be a transition and an orderly one."

McCain’s call for Mubarak to step aside immediately is also notable because McCain has been arguing strenuously in recent days that the Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to benefit from a free election, is a dangerous and violent organization.

"Have no doubt about the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. They’re a radical organization, they support Hamas, and they would be very bad for Egypt," McCain said Tuesday.

Last fall, McCain led a drive to pass a Senate resolution calling on Mubarak to advance political reform and calling on the Obama administration to press Mubarak on human rights. That resolution died before reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

"We’ve got to be on the right side of history," McCain told The Cable Tuesday. "If you’re on the right side of history, everything will turn out OK."

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) just became the most senior foreign-policy figure in Washington to outwardly call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power now.

"Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres. Mubarak 2 step down & relinquish power. It’s in the best interest of Egypt, its people & its military," he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

McCain, who met with President Obama at the White House Wednesday, went further than either the administration or Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who have called for Mubarak not to run again for president but have stopped short of calling for him to relinquish power at this time.

The message from McCain was not some coordinated communications strategy cooked up with the White House, according to our sources, but simply represented McCain’s latest analysis of the ever worsening situation on the ground in Egypt and the handling of the crisis by Mubarak and his regime.

Only yesterday, McCain was supporting the administration’s official line. On Tuesday, he praised Obama’s call for Mubarak to begin an orderly transition to democracy and to not run for reelection.

"I’m not going to try to second-guess the president at this difficult time," McCain told reporters. "I think there should be a transition and an orderly one."

McCain’s call for Mubarak to step aside immediately is also notable because McCain has been arguing strenuously in recent days that the Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to benefit from a free election, is a dangerous and violent organization.

"Have no doubt about the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. They’re a radical organization, they support Hamas, and they would be very bad for Egypt," McCain said Tuesday.

Last fall, McCain led a drive to pass a Senate resolution calling on Mubarak to advance political reform and calling on the Obama administration to press Mubarak on human rights. That resolution died before reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

"We’ve got to be on the right side of history," McCain told The Cable Tuesday. "If you’re on the right side of history, everything will turn out OK."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin