The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Can anyone beat McCain?
As news coverage of the 2008 Presidential contest gradually picks up, especially with the Republican candidates coming to the fore at last week's Southern Republican Leadership Conference, my thoughts have turned to that question pretty frequently lately.

A couple things:

1. He is setting up to run a very very different campaign this time than in 2000. Then it was all about change, about straight talk, and somewhat about traditional conservative values. But he was very much making himself out to be a maverick, playing up that image in public.

This time McCain is playing much more insider baseball. I absolutely believe the mumblings that he and Bush struck a deal in 2004... McCain's support for Bush in '04 (remember: the amount McCain backed Bush against his friend Kerry was surprising at the time) vs. behind-the-scenes (president can't really outwardly support someone in the primary) support for McCain in '08. So McCain has been able to hire some of Bush's campaign gurus, and is perhaps soon to lock up the support of Haley Barbour, and influential Republican governor in the South, and a Bush loyalist.

And, for those of you who didn't follow this development: at last week's straw poll in Memphis, McCain asked his supporters to write in George Bush's name rather than vote McCain. Is there anything more kiss-ass than that?

2. Traditional Republicans are going to be looking for someone of McCain's style (open, honest, hard-working, direct, fiscally conservative) in '08 after 8 years of Bush (closed, secretive, intellectually lazy, fiscally reckless).

In short, I think McCain is playing it very smart this time around. The questions remain: is he too socially moderate for the GOP primary? Is he too old? People often forget, but this guy is pretty ancient, and we've had young presidents for 16 years.

I didn't really answer my subject question. I'll get into it tomorrow in further detail, but the short answer is: Yes.
posted by CB @ 11:41 AM  
  • At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here's where McCain might run into some problems as the race intensifies (aside from his age, which could be just as much an undercurrent now in voter choices as gender in presidential elections): He has, as you mention, been sidling up to Bush an awful lot. The bear hug from '04 will certainly make it back to commercials against him. And Paul Krugman gave us a taste of what a typical assault on him could be: in terms of his voting record, he's actually the third most conservative member of the Senate. If you tear down his image as a maverick and just tie him down to Bush, McCain becomes eminently more beatable. By, say, I don't know - Bill Richardson? :0)

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