April 30, 2003

THE NEXT JOHN McCAIN

Democratic presidential candidates attempt to pick up Sen. McCain’s maverick mantle (The Hill, 4/30/2003)
As the 2004 presidential campaign heats up, Democratic hopefuls are competing in ... what some political operatives are calling the “McCain primary.”

While Democratic operatives cautioned that it may be too early to declare a winner in this category, they say former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is emerging as the frontrunner to become the Democratic avatar of Sen. John McCain....

“To be frank, almost any Democrat would like to have the ex-McCain [mantle]. There’s a tremendous benefit there,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster....

Other pollsters and operatives agree that there’s a race among Democrats to be anointed as this year’s straight-talking candidate as they attempt to re-create McCain’s success in appealing to independents and swing voters....

“Dean is the most McCain-like character because he doesn’t waver in his opinions,” said Lake....

Veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said: “There’s no doubt that Howard Dean has the buzz around him like McCain did”...

It hardly strikes fear into Republican hearts that the Democrats want to model their 2004 campaign on that of a guy George Bush defeated handily in 2000.

But this McCain-philia gives me a thought. It's possible that Dean will win the nomination: Democratic senators are largely discredited, and primary voters know that the last two Dem winners were governors. But Dean would be vulnerable in the general election because of his hard-left stands, and will need a running mate who balances the ticket. What better balance could there be than John McCain as VP on the first bipartisan ticket?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at April 30, 2003 5:23 PM
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