December 16, 2007


McCain's Last Stand (Fred Barnes, 12/24/2007, Weekly Standard)

[T]he old McCain is back, the flippant, contrarian candidate who came close to defeating George W. Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000. And amazingly enough, after his campaign to be nominee in 2008 all but collapsed this summer, McCain is experiencing a rebirth. He now has a chance--an outside chance, at least--of winning the Republican nomination.

Things large and small in the campaign have been moving McCain's way. The war in Iraq has turned sharply toward victory now that President Bush has adopted the strategy McCain had been recommending for several years. This is McCain's best issue and now a distinct plus for his campaign. And the immigration issue, a poisonous one for McCain, has become less intense since his immigrant-friendly approach lost in the Senate last summer.

Then there's the rise of Mike Huckabee, the ex-Arkansas governor. If he defeats Mitt Romney in Iowa next month--and polls show Huckabee ahead--that will disrupt Romney's early-state strategy and leave him vulnerable in the New Hampshire primary on January 8. To capture the nomination, McCain must win in New Hampshire. McCain, by the way, likes Huckabee and can't stand Romney.

Just as Romney has run into trouble, McCain's other rivals have as well. The campaign of Rudy Giuliani, the ex-New York City mayor, has stalled amid a burst of unfavorable media stories. Former senator Fred Thompson has failed to stir significant support among conservatives, his target group. Still, like Huckabee, Thompson is running hard against Romney in Iowa.

In his up and down campaign, McCain has already disproved two pieces of conventional wisdom. One is that Republicans are a primogeniture party that routinely makes the next major Republican figure in line the near-prohibitive frontrunner. McCain, having paid his dues in 2000, did lead the pack initially, but his campaign cratered in June from overspending and the unpopularity of his position on immigration.

The second is that primary debates don't matter. In McCain's case (and Huckabee's), however, televised debates have been a godsend. McCain's recovery began in a Fox News debate in New Hampshire on September 5, when he pugnaciously challenged Romney on the surge.

...are you aware you're denying the existence of primogeniture in an essay describing an impending proof of primogeniture?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2007 11:58 AM
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