Thursday, February 7, 2008

Can McCain Win?

It is official—John McCain is the Republican nominee. Mitt Romney represented the only conceivable obstacle to his nomination, and his withdrawal from the race has made McCain a lock for the nomination.

John McCain is in good position to win the White House—I am not sure that he could hope for better. He emerged relatively unscathed from the primary process. As the rest of the candidates battled it out, McCain’s lack of frontrunner status served him well. While the frontrunners took heat from all sides, McCain stood out of the fray, emerging as a favorite after many of the candidates had been eliminated.

Helping McCain even more was Mitt Romney’s mature and well-considered decision to withdraw from the race. It was nearly impossible to envision a scenario in which Romney could have won the nomination, but he could have hurt McCain’s chances in the general election by hammering home the theme that McCain is not a conservative.

However, his withdrawal gives McCain time to attempt to win over conservatives. In addition, while the Democrat nominee takes relentless fire from his (or her) opponent, McCain will have the luxury of attacking his opponents while they are distracted, as they attempt to win the nomination of their party.

McCain’s signature issues are turning into the dominant ones of the campaign. The Iraq War, earmarks and pork barrel spending, and corruption in government are all key issues in this election. McCain advocated the surge long before anyone else, which will be a significant advantage in the general election. McCain has been a crusader against pork spending and corruption. The Democrats promised to end these practices—and failed miserably. McCain can reasonably expect that voters might give a member of the other party a chance.

There is one enormous obstacle in the way of McCain: conservatives. Some will gravitate to him simply because he is the Republican nominee, others will move towards him after the inevitable media attacks overemphasize his conservatism. These folks will figure anyone attacked by the mainstream media cannot be all bad.

But there are a large number of conservatives who with seriously consider withholding their vote from McCain. McCain will have to win these individuals over.

One move that would attract conservative support would be to nominate a rock-solid conservative as his running mate. Someone like, say, Fred Thompson. Thompson is a longtime friend of McCain, and has unquestionable conservative credentials. If McCain nominates Fred, then a great many conservatives will bury their doubts and vote for McCain.

Another thing that McCain absolutely must do is to make his peace with Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh is intelligent, entertaining, and fair, but he also has a large ego. He sees himself as the standard bearer of conservatism, and he probably is. But as long as McCain retains his dislike for Rush, he will receive little support from talk radio.

He needs Limbaugh’s support. If John McCain wants to become President of the United States, he will have to find common ground with Rush. This will be difficult, but probably not impossible. Limbaugh probably does not wish to see Hillary Clinton in the White House, and may agree to support McCain, provided that he feels McCain will govern at least somewhat conservatively.

If he can, he will be in excellent position to win the election. Hillary and Obama will probably fight well into April, and possibly beyond. If Hillary wins the nomination, as seems likely, McCain he will get a huge number of anti-Hillary voters.

In order to have a realistic shot at winning in November, John McCain will have to appoint a conservative running mate, make his peace with Rush, and hope that Hillary gets the nomination. If all of these things occur, John McCain could very easily win the Presidency


At February 7, 2008 at 8:40 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Having Thompson as his running mate isn't good enough for me to like McCain.

At February 8, 2008 at 6:19 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

If Thompson believed enough in John McCain's vision for America, then why would Thompson have made a run for president?

Some have said to take votes away from other candidates to help McCain.

That's a hard sell for me.

At February 8, 2008 at 6:37 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

Secondly, while it is admirable to be a hawk on pork barrel spending, it doesn't really amount to squat in the whole scheme of things.

Bush just put forth a $3 TRILLION budget. You want to know how much those pesky little earmarks account for? A mere $17 Billion.

If you want to get to the heart of the spending matter, you've got to tackle entitlements (Social Security, Medicare). There was really only one candidate who was addressing those issues in this election and that was Fred Thompson. Not even Ron Paul wants to talk about entitlments. His focus is primarily on the Military Industrial Complex.

Many at first were suggesting that McCain would tap Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (who failed to win the state for McCain according to the Caucus straw poll). But now, because he's going to essentially need to sweep the south (something I've bee saying the Republican candidate will need to do to win which is why Giuliani didn't have a snowball's chance) some are saying he may look to Huckabee who has that ability.

If it comes to pass that I'm wrong on this assessment I'll admit it. But, I don't think I am. And, if I'm not, I'll be so humble as to not say "I told you so."

At February 8, 2008 at 7:18 AM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

I seriously doubt that McCain will look to Huckabee, if he does, it will be a distaster. I like both McCain and Huckabee more than most conservatives do, and I would never vote for that ticket.

I agree that Thompson was the only candidate to address entitlements, but Romney did on his way out. If he had made entitlements a bigger issue in his campaign, maybe he would have been able to get more votes.

At February 8, 2008 at 10:50 AM , Blogger Beth said...

This election should be a learning lesson for future candidates, especially on what NOT to do when running for office.

At February 8, 2008 at 11:21 AM , Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

sigh...I cant imagine him being our Pres...........sad.

At February 13, 2008 at 11:02 AM , Blogger DD2 aka Debonair Dude said...

"Can McCain Win?"
More inportantly. ( in my opinion)
Can Hillary LOSE?

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