February 12, 2006


For Possible '08 Run, McCain Is Courting Bush Loyalists (Dan Balz, February 12, 2006, Washington Post)

With a 2008 campaign in the offing, McCain has begun an intensive courtship of Bush's financial and political networks. His recent travels included a December swing through the heart of Bush country in Texas that put him in front of many of the president's leading supporters there.

In 2000, McCain proved better at attracting independent voters than Republicans, and his success in overcoming doubts about him within his own party holds the key to his prospective candidacy. As Republicans look toward 2008 and worry about maintaining the White House, a streak of pragmatism has drawn them to look again at a man who often has been an antagonist of the president and party leaders.

McCain, who was not interviewed, will not make a final decision about running until after November, aides said. In anticipation of a likely campaign, he appears eager to reach accommodation with longtime GOP adversaries. He has undertaken the kind of practical steps necessary to enhance his chances of winning the nomination, focusing on organizations in states critical to winning the GOP nomination and building relationships with Republicans who rejected him in 2000. [...]

[R]ecent events and McCain's record have coincided to make the Arizona senator newly attractive to many Republicans. After the scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Republicans are scrambling to associate themselves with McCain's image as a reformer. They also praise McCain for his role in smoothing the confirmation of Bush's judicial nominations.

McCain's upcoming schedule, which includes trips to New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, California, Florida, Minnesota, Arkansas and New Jersey, reflects the convergence between his political ambitions and his growing demand among Republicans. "The McCain brand in this environment is something people want, and they're breaking down the door of McCain's operation to get an appearance or an endorsement," said GOP strategist David Carney.

Fiscal conservatives, alarmed by the ballooning federal deficit on the president's watch, have been drawn to McCain as someone who says he can rein in spending -- though they remain suspicious of his commitment to tax cuts. "He's reaching out to all of us," said Mallory Factor, chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund. "He may not be winning converts, but he's making gains."

Most important may be the admiration McCain earned for his steadfast support of Bush in the 2004 campaign and his unyielding defense of the president's decision to go to war in Iraq.

The most important thing for the Senator is that completeing the Ownership Society and the transformation of the Middle East fits perfectly with his chosen image as a reformer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 12, 2006 8:34 AM

But will he do it? McCain has been good on Iraq and the war but suspect on the domestic front. Who can say for certainty that he won't begin to dismantle Bush's efforts toward the ownernorship society because he doesn't want to alienate the New York Times?

Posted by: AWW at February 12, 2006 10:59 AM

Anyone who's watched him.

Posted by: oj at February 12, 2006 1:02 PM

Show me the live babies, show me the guns.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 12, 2006 3:50 PM
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