March 14, 2006


Straw Poll Strategy: John McCain is changing his tactics for 2008. Inside a maverick’s campaign. (Howard Fineman, March 13, 2006, Newsweek)

In a sense, Sen. John McCain’s campaign for the presidency in 2008 began with a personal, private phone call he made last week—to President George W. Bush. [...]

Private though it was, the McCain call was emblematic of the ‘08 strategy that he and his circle have decided to pursue. They want to build out their campaign with members of the Bush circle, and base McCain’s pitch on the notion that he is the only sensible, electable and competent commander who can take control of the war on terror.

“Competence and electability,” that’s what we’re going to talk about,” said a key advisor. “If you support the president’s vision, John can carry it forward.” [...]

Here in Memphis, McCainanites worked closely on straw poll strategy with Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a Bush loyalist widely regarded as one of the sharpest strategic and organizational minds in the party. They are wooing him to come aboard officially, which would be a major coup for McCain.

The Senator can win election easily but needs ideas to run and govern on. The President and Karl Rove want a Republican successor to finish what they've started. It's a match made in GOP heaven.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2006 2:36 PM

The Senator is behaving awfully strangely for someone who's not running for President...

This story about a "personal, private phone call" is amusing, considering it certainly wasn't someone in the White House who let Fineman know about it. Just another example of why a McCain White House will be such a mess.

If the "B" in JEB stood for anything but "Bush" he'd be the guy for sure. As it is he'll always have to live with the knowledge that if only he had won his first run for FL Gov he and not his brother would have been President in 2000. He missed the party switch by just a hair...

Every young Southern Gov & Senator has to think they have a shot to be picked by McCain for VP--Graham hasn't even attempted to hide his ambitions. Gotta think none of them can match Condi as an all around political plus, though.

Posted by: b at March 14, 2006 3:00 PM


Posted by: Sandy P. at March 14, 2006 3:04 PM

I'm not convinced Jeb wants the job--but Barbour would be a worthy VP, no? Particularly after his impressive Katrina showing. He'd be far better than Graham, who wouldn't do a thing to shore up conservative support.

Posted by: Timothy at March 14, 2006 3:06 PM

Should Sen. Keating-McCain get the nomination, he surely must be aware that he can't repeat the Kerry-Edwards fiasco of the dangers of having two sitting Senators on the ticket. And since the Great Man doesn't have any elected executive experience, and if he uses the Cheney model, someone like Barbour (especially if he gets reelected in '007) should be his choice. (So would Jeb, but as pointed out earlier, Bush fatigue will keep him out.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 14, 2006 3:54 PM

[channeling bro Cohen] Except that he's not running. [/channeling bro Cohen]

Posted by: John Resnick at March 14, 2006 4:16 PM

If Clinton is the Dem nominee, any Bush fatigue factor is totally gone. Florida is a swing state, Jeb ensures it going GOP. (If Gore picks Nelson or Graham, who is President right now?)Miss. is going GOP anyway.

So, Jeb it is. Whether its McCain or Rudy. Even if it Romney, as a Mormon, he needs someone tight with regular evangelicals.

Posted by: Bob at March 14, 2006 4:45 PM

By the way, wouldn't using a McCain feint to freeze the nominating process in place until mid to late 07, when they can swoop in and control it be a brilliant Bush/Rove strategery?

Posted by: David Cohen at March 14, 2006 5:01 PM

They aren't that smart, they're conservatives.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2006 5:07 PM

David: A McCain feint would be great if it kept Hillary out of the race. I expect her to keep on fundraising while waiting to see if McCain actually runs--if so, she should decide to wait. But there's nothing in it for McCain (who wants to be President SO badly), or for the Republican Party, since he'll win in a walk (and then be a terrible President). Never assume a conspiracy when the painfully obvious makes so much sense...

Posted by: b at March 14, 2006 5:11 PM

McCain won't keep her out. The nomination is hers for the asking and then she's one of only two people who can win.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2006 5:17 PM

b: I really don't see the desperate need to be President in McCain. As for what would be in it for him, he could spend a year fulfilling his greatest wish: to be the grandmarshall at every parade and the keynote at every rally.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 14, 2006 5:53 PM

Every senator wants to be president, two of the hundred have 50/50 shots and they'll take them.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2006 6:18 PM

David: We've had this conversation before, haven't we? He's the son & grandson of admirals, and was a fighter pilot. His ego is obviously enormous. No one will remember Sen. McCain in 100 years, but they will remember Pres. McCain.

Posted by: b at March 14, 2006 7:24 PM
McCain won't keep her out. The nomination is hers for the asking and then she's one of only two people who can win.
It's not that McCain would keep HRC out, but his nomination would keep her from asking.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 14, 2006 7:47 PM

How he's remembered is the question.

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 14, 2006 8:05 PM

GHWB at 90% didn't keep her husband from asking.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2006 9:19 PM

No, but it did scare off Mario Cuomo (and perhaps Sam Nunn, although he was toast after voting against the resolution on Gulf War I). Although, to be fair, I suspect Cuomo was influenced by what happened to Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 15, 2006 12:17 AM

Needs to be said: Brothers Judd is the BEST BLOG on the internet, thanks to Orrin and -- yes -- all we fine brothers.

This is the place.

Posted by: Time out! at March 15, 2006 12:38 AM

Right on Time Out.

Posted by: erp at March 15, 2006 7:36 AM

All the really great presidents are ex-senators because of the executive experience they get making those tough calls in the Senate. Don't we all know that the buck stops with the U.S. Senate? In addition, McCain has solved the whole campaign-finance problem and prevented us from torturing gentlemen who might otherwise be dissuaded from doing us harm. His winning slogan will be "Why manufacture enemies? Don't we have enough?"

Keep the photo-op governors away from this nomination. The GOP definitely has a future Rushmorian in McCain.

Posted by: Palmcroft at March 15, 2006 9:17 AM

I can see McCain giving a SOTU address - "I know it is difficult for Congress to do anything. I served in Congress. But Congress never has had a President like me. Pass my bills, you spineless money-hungry, pork-barrel, perk-licking dogs!"

Or something along those lines. As crazy as it sounds, it would resonate with the public (for a while). And if Pelosi and Reid are still the opposition leaders, they would be hiding under their chairs.

Posted by: ratbert at March 15, 2006 11:12 AM