April 21, 2005


McCain's hug in '04 may help him in '08 (Geoff Earle, 4/21/05, The Hill)

For those “McCainiacs” still nursing wounds from the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, the scene was among the most searing images of the 2004 campaign.

President Bush, at the height of a tough reelection fight, hugged Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), his former primary opponent, at a campaign event in Pensacola, Fla., and then gave him a kiss on the side of the head.

The gesture of GOP solidarity was a carefully orchestrated coup for Bush, who had his hands full fending off a Vietnam veteran from the left, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). It signaled to Republicans — even those harboring doubts about some of Bush’s policies on the war and the economy — that they should rally around the president to advance the overall Republican agenda.

But over time, the gesture might prove to be equally important to McCain, who could once again make a run for the presidency in 2008.

If he does run a successful campaign to capture the GOP nomination, McCain will need to reach out beyond his unique base of support among Democrats, independents and Republicans (his popular appeal divides about evenly among all three groups in polls). This time, he will need to do a better job of winning over some of the GOP establishment voters who turned against him in South Carolina after a series of negative attacks by Bush campaign surrogates.

Already, some are predicting that McCain — who is one of the best-known and most-liked Republicans in the country — will fashion a campaign aimed at winning over GOP standard-bearers.

Then he needs to help get the judges through, perhaps with a compromise that only changes the filibuster rule for appointments. He'd win the presidency so easily though that it will be hard for the GOP not to go with him absent a Jeb candidacy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2005 10:01 AM

It's going to be a nasty primary fight unless he gets more proactive in accomplishing things the Republican voters care about, like judicial nominiations and Social Security reform. Being on the right side on the war on terror isn't enough when you keep going on Hardball every other week to drop new bombs on your fellow senators' own positions or make remarks that play into the Democrats' hands in their efforts to cut the legs out from under the White House's nominees

Posted by: John at April 21, 2005 10:21 AM

McCain didn't lose the GOP base in South Carolina because of negative attacks against him; he lost it because of his own negative attacks against Christians, made in the weeks before the South Carolina primary.

And oj, there is no such compromise available. The only rule change the GOP is considering is already limited to appointments, and McCain has come out against it.

Posted by: pj at April 21, 2005 11:42 AM


His own compromise. It can be identical as long as it has name on it.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 11:45 AM

McCain who is one of the best-known and most-liked Republicans in the country

"most-liked?" What alternate universe is that from?

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 21, 2005 12:13 PM

Any Republican Senator not voting to change the filibuster rule for advise and consent purposes is dead to me.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 21, 2005 12:14 PM

Mike: The MSM's comfy, self-referencial (and rapidly shrinking) universe is the only one that matters.

Posted by: John Resnick at April 21, 2005 12:28 PM

its hard to believe there is a species of creature lower than a congressman but senators surely are. is there even one genuinely decent person in the senate, and have they ever accomplished anything there ?

Posted by: cjm at April 21, 2005 12:31 PM

McCain is scum. If there's a bad law out there, it usually has McCain's fingerprints on it. If McCain publically confesses that his campaign finance reform effort was wrong, was an astro-turf effort by well funded liberals including George Soros and was an affront to both the Constitution and the American public, I might considering listening to him. Otherwise I'll sit out the election rather than vote for him.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 21, 2005 12:42 PM

I can't believe I'm saying this, but if we're going to lose our hard won advantage and let Democrats regain de facto power by a combination of character assassination in the media and weak-willed Republicans in congress, I'll join the movement for a third party and put everything I have into making it work.

McCain is scum. End of story.

Posted by: erp at April 21, 2005 12:56 PM


I agree totally that McCain is low, sleazy, scum, back-stabber etc, but if he will win and help Republicans win in Congress, I'll be right there supporting him with a sh*t eating grin on my face.

Posted by: h-man at April 21, 2005 1:25 PM

If McCain helps get the judges through AND works hard on SS reform, I'll support him. He's making no moves to do either, though. I don't think he's running.

Posted by: Timothy at April 21, 2005 1:46 PM

The moment McCain gets nominated (no chance) his press would go from "principled, free-thinking, moderate Republican" to "anti-abortion extremist with anger management issues and probably severe long-term mental damage caused in Vietnam".

Posted by: b at April 21, 2005 2:16 PM

John Kerry was a vietnam war vet? Wow, they sure buried that fact during the presidential campaign.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 21, 2005 2:23 PM

If nominated, McCain loses. The world's largest Evangelical fishing tournament will be held on election day, 2008.

Posted by: Dan at April 21, 2005 2:58 PM

Not just Evangelicals. I'm one of those 'independent' secular conservative types, and I'll never forgive McCain for that wretched campaign finance reform bill. Political freedom of speech is one of the key pillars of our system of government and McCain either doesn't have a clue about it or is actively hostile to it. Either way he's too dangerous to allow near the White House. If he's nominated, I'm staying home.

Posted by: Kyle Haight at April 21, 2005 3:01 PM

Republicans are docile--we'll all turn out and vote the nominee.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 3:08 PM

McCain isn't, by any means, my preferred candidate. I'm not nearly as sure as OJ that he would be a particularly strong candidate. But if my choice is McCain or Hillary, or McCain or Kerry, then I'm voting for McCain.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 21, 2005 3:11 PM

Look, it wasn't so long ago that Democrats had a huge majority in the Senate and dominated the country. We now have the House and the Presidency, and the Senate and judiciary hang in the balance. We know the founding fathers designed the Senate and judiciary to be slow-changing, with long tenures and staggered elections, so that short-term sentiments couldn't drive the country; political movements would have to prove themselves over the long haul to capture the Senate and judiciary and thereby win dominance. Knowing that, why would we consider giving up on the Republican coalition, just when we're on the verge of victory?

Our enemies are the leftists. We have to work around people like McCain and the other Senate prima donna moderates. Don't waste energy fighting people like McCain who are sitting on the sidelines. I know the irritation at people who refuse to join in and help a good cause, but it's immature to let that irritation destroy the whole effort.

Posted by: pj at April 21, 2005 3:12 PM


You would be shocked at the number of evangelicals I know who worked hard for Bush in 2004 who do not consider themselves Republicans. McCain simply is not their cup of tea, judges or no judges.

Posted by: Dan at April 21, 2005 3:13 PM

What is so infuriating is the incompetence being shown by the Republican Senators. Daschle's defeat was supposed to be a sign to all red-state Dems that stonewalling judges was bad for your political health. And yet there is no sign that this has happened, because the Dems are dominating the debate. I am stupefied that "preserve the glorious traditions of the Senate" is a winning argument over "every nominee deserves a vote". We all know that it's not, that in reality the Republicans aren't even making their case. If they're not even going to try, people aren't going to do the groundwork to get them elected.

Posted by: b at April 21, 2005 3:35 PM

It's not enough to outweigh what he'd get in Independents and Democrats. And he'd be the third most conservative president of the past 80 years

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 3:37 PM


You think the Dems will just meekly surrender if McCain is nominated? Look, I'm a rock solid Republican, and if McCain is nominated, I'll vote for him, but I see him as weaker, not stronger, than GWB.

Posted by: Dan at April 21, 2005 3:47 PM

Bush had little appeal to independents and none to Democrats by election day. McCain would easily carry Independents--his image is how they like to think of themselves--and at least not boost turnout among Democrats. A McCain/Jeb ticket would break 60%.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 3:58 PM

Soros and CFR - tie that in with what else Mr. Busy Bee has going on and no conservative will trust McCain.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 21, 2005 4:00 PM

OJ: His problem is, live by the mainstream media, die by the mainstream media. They like him fine, for a Republican, but they'll happily torpedo him in the general election.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 21, 2005 4:15 PM


The media doesn't matter much--they tried taking out Reagan and Bush too.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 4:26 PM

mccain's wife is like kitty dukakkis -- unstable mentally. also he has health issues that are only going to get worse. some republicans will grit their teeth and vote for anybody with an R next to their name, but enough won't to hand it to the democrats.

the way things are now, the republicans are going to catch all the blame because they have the majority. let the dems have the senate and take responsibility for things there.

Posted by: cjm at April 21, 2005 4:32 PM

Blame? Blame for what? The war'll be over, most of the troops home, a state in Palestine, economy still rolling along. There'll be reform work that needs to be completed, which McCain might actually be good at. He's a very good legislator.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 4:39 PM

I don't care for McCain myself but OJ is right, if he gets the nomination, he wins. Jeb as VP sould mollify, even excite social conservatives based on McCain's age and health.

If Senator Clinton is the Dem nominee, will evangelicals still stay home? Highly, highly doubtful in my view.

Posted by: Bob at April 21, 2005 5:10 PM

But they hadn't made Reagan and Bush.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 21, 2005 6:07 PM

The media hadn't made Reagan?

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 6:15 PM

There's something weird on this thread. I made the comment labeled "b" at 3:12 pm, though someone, perhaps oj, edited it. I did not make the comment labeled "pj" at 3:35 pm.
- pj

Posted by: pj at April 21, 2005 6:36 PM

Republicans aren't all that docile. I sat out several elections -- 88, 92 and 96 -- rather than vote for what was on offer.

I suspect there are alot of folks like me, inspired by Reagan and W and looking for more of the same, but not willing to go to the polls for a crap candidate just b/c he's a repub.

I'lll vote against McCain in the primary and if he wins I won't vote in the general election.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 21, 2005 7:07 PM

maybe "blame" is the wrong word. expectations have been lifted quite high and if those expectations are not substantially fulfilled, dissapointment will be strong. look at it this way, just how far from jim jeffords is mccain ? not far by my measure. now how do you feel about jeffords, would you vote for him for president ? you can scoff at this but i think it is very serious.

Posted by: cjm at April 21, 2005 7:28 PM


That's absurd. McCain is a conservative even in the conservative party. Jeffords was always a liberal:


Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 7:41 PM


Except that a vp succeeded a president in '88, a rarity. The two candidates of the Right got well over 50% in '92. And even Bob Dole kept Clinton under 50% in /96 during an economic boom in peacetime. The bitter just don't add up to much on election day--only in the out years when their whining feels good but doesn't matter.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 7:46 PM

"McCain is a conservative..."

That's a good one, OJ.

Posted by: Slider at April 21, 2005 8:11 PM

Mr. Judd;

McCain? Conservative? The guy was the paid front man for an alliance of the key Leftists organizations / people in the USA during the most blatant assault on our political freedoms in modern history. The only reason he's not the Manchurian Candidate is because it's all out in the open. What's even more worrisome is the possibility that he did it not because of some principle but because he just doesn't like getting criticized.

Frankly, I think Hillary Clinton would probably do less damage to the Republic and the Republican Party than McCain.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 21, 2005 8:15 PM

mc cain would be rmn2, if elected, which thankfully will never happen. i suppose oj thinks nixon was a conservative too.

Posted by: cjm at April 21, 2005 8:23 PM


George Bush ran on it and signed it. No one questions him.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 8:25 PM


McCain is pretty close to the opposite of Nixon. He's much more conservative on social issues, popular with the press, and extremely likely to take us to war.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 8:28 PM

AOG is very right that McCain probably did CFR partly because he hates being criticized and wanted to shut up his critics (in addition to whatever benefits he got from media lauds), not for principle.

McCain is a secularist and it's not clear he has strong principles. cjm's Nixon comparison is a good one.

George Bush is a Machiavelli who supported CFR so he could fight on terrain of his own choosing, not the liberal-media complex's. We tolerate his Machiavellianism because he's the most effective leader we have. McCain isn't going to get the same toleration.

Posted by: pj at April 21, 2005 9:12 PM

oj - McCain has an excellent voting record, but it's not clear that a voting record in Congress, where being a team player is strongly rewarded, translates reliably into what he would do in an independent office. Earl Warren may have had a good record as governor of California (I don't know what it was, but it appealed to Eisenhower), but that didn't stop him from being an activist Supreme Court justice.

I can't imagine that "extremely likely to take us to war" is going to recommend him to conservative voters absent some appropriate qualification.

Posted by: pj at April 21, 2005 9:28 PM


The ones who are most angry at him are the same ones who want top go on to Saudi Arabia. Within the party generally he's quite popular.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 9:51 PM

We all know about McCain's issues with the media and with petty legislation (remember, he authored the Telecommunications Act of 1996). I think his chief weakness is a complete lack of gratitude (or grace). He insults the glue of the Republican party at almost every turn, but he will need it in November 2008.

GHWB did the same thing (although from a different angle, admittedly - he was basically uncomfortable with the new GOP) and look what he got in 1992. McCain is the loud-mouthed kid at the back of the class, waving his arms wildly, looking for approval. He won't get it from probably 10% of those who voted for Bush 6 months ago, which he will need to make up somehow. Can he get it from "independents"?

If Chris Matthews and his type were decisive, McCain would win. But they weren't for Kerry, and they won't be for Senator Ego.

OTOH, Hillary's torpedo is already in the water: lower-level functionaries have agreed to plead guilty and testify against David Rosen. She is on the precipice now.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 21, 2005 9:56 PM

GHWB raised taxes when he said he wouldn't otherwise he'd have won re-election.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 11:22 PM


Warren sent the Nisei to concentration camps.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 11:23 PM

It wasn't that broken promise alone that took him from 55% to 38%. As much as anything, it was probably his lack of effort in running in 1992. He looked like he didn't really want to win, and Barbara has been quoted as saying she was happy when they lost.

Also, George Mitchell in destroy mode was way too much for GHWB. He just didn't understand what he was dealing with.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 21, 2005 11:37 PM

It was just taxes.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2005 12:23 AM

OJ: Warren just tossed them out of their homes. FDR sent them to concentration camps.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 22, 2005 7:47 AM

At Warren's urging.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2005 8:56 AM

The Presidency is not the Supreme Court, the Court is not dependent on others. As President McCain will still need the GOP to get anything done. The GOP will stock his Administration.

McCain is not a lock for the nonination but he wins the general election. Look at the states the President won. What state would McCain lose because of evangelicals staying home? Ohio perhaps but he can make it up from "independents".

Otherwise, he wins everything the President won, plus retakes New Hampshire. So, he wins.

Posted by: Bob at April 22, 2005 9:52 AM

Warren was given the Court as payment for staying out of the Republican nominating process and giving California to Ike. He was a jerk as governor while all were distracted by the war and the booming post-war economy. Earl warren was close to the biggest fool who ever held office.h

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 22, 2005 8:41 PM

And friendly with the Dewey crowd from when the UN was being established, if I recall correctly.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2005 11:50 PM
« FIRSTS: | Main | DUBIE US: »