January 14, 2008


McCain faces little incoming fire (Jonathan Martin, Jan 14, 2008, Politico)

His opponents aren’t going after him. There isn’t a single third-party group hammering him in broadcast TV or radio ads. Even anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, a longtime adversary, is taking it easy on John McCain this time around.

In short, McCain is getting a free pass, and it’s beginning to show. In campaign events across western Michigan, voters are once again being reminded of the qualities of character that have made him an admired figure on the national political scene, without the distraction of ads designed to muddy that image.

Asked why she likes McCain, Tina Wolfis of Kalamazoo pointed to “his honesty, his straight-forwardness.”

Other voters, Republicans all, cited similar qualities. [...]

McCain’s support appears less tied to any one particular issue than to his well-cultivated, straight-talking persona — one that is unsullied this year as opponents such as Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson express their own admiration or friendship for McCain rather than a desire to defeat him. And the lack of negative messaging has led to widespread unfamiliarity with McCain’s position on illegal immigration. Mitt Romney, for his part, is broadcasting only spots about his own record here after seeing what a barrage of negative ads got him in the first two states.

The Republican candidates aren’t the only ones treating McCain with kid gloves. Norquist, who helped spearhead third-party anti-McCain efforts in 2000, has overseen just a single round of little-noticed phone calls into New Hampshire urging voters to call both McCain and Thompson and urge them to sign the no-tax-increase pledge. He said his group has no plans to do any further calls.Norquist’s approach this year is indicative that McCain is in a stronger position this time around. By Norquist’s reckoning, he has come around on some key issues, while others don’t have the resonance they once did.

“In 2000, we criticized McCain’s call for campaign finance reform,” Norquist noted in an e-mail message. “The whole movement was concerned with that issue — the NRA, Right to Life, Right to Work, American Conservative Union, most business groups.

“Today, McCain is calling for continuing the Bush tax cuts — that is leading with a $2 trillion tax cut,” Norquist added.

That's how a hierarchical party works.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 14, 2008 11:44 PM

McCain is more likely to try to raise taxes (through dealing with the Dems) than he is to fight for the permanance of the Bush tax cuts. I am sure he figures his bona fides with the media will protect him, unlike what happened with George Bush Sr.

If Romney wins MI, and Fred wins SC, watch out for nasty McCain to re-appear in a flash. And once again, he will snarl at Republicans, his favorite target. He just doesn't seem capable of maturing, now does he?

Posted by: ratbert at January 15, 2008 8:45 AM

McCain supported tax cuts, just less sizable than W's. Fiscal responsibility is an ancient Republican belief. Modern conservatives just don't believe in it any more.

Posted by: oj at January 15, 2008 12:12 PM