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McCain urges GOP to give up on contraception fight

<p>On "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory asked Sen.</p>

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), "Do you think that there is something of a war on women among Republicans?" Instead of saying, "No, of course not," the senator seemed to implicitly concede the reality of the situation, responding, "I think we have to fix that."

McCain added that Republicans "need to get off" the contraception issue altogether, adding, "I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives."

This is a reversal for McCain, who voted for the anti-contraception Blunt Amendment a few weeks ago, and never expressed concerns about the effort until yesterday. What's more, the sweeping nature of his response -- "respect the right of women to make choices in their lives" -- suggests the Republican effort to make this fight about religious liberty is effectively over. The GOP message simply failed.

But there was something else McCain said on the issue that's worth acknowledging. Gregory brought up a proposal pending in the senator's home state of Arizona, which as Rachel explained on Friday, "would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if the employee seeks contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes. So, Arizona Republicans are going to make you tell your boss if you are having sex but you're taking precautions not to get pregnant."

Asked about the measure, McCain said he's "confident" it will not become law, adding that the proposal "certainly doesn't reflect, in my view, the majority view of the people of Arizona."

Here's a little tidbit McCain may not know: the bill has already passed the Arizona state House, thanks to the strong support of his own party. Perhaps without realizing it, the senator told a national television audience that Republicans in Arizona are pushing an agenda that's at odds with what Arizona's mainstream wants.

In other words, Democrats in the Grand Canyon State have a new and unexpected ally in pushing back against the GOP's culture-war proposals: John McCain.

Postscript: This was, by the way, McCain's 64th appearance on "Meet the Press." He's been a guest more than anyone else in the show's 65 year history.