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June 07, 2005


You don't think Newt looks strong?! He's co-sponsored an initiative with Hilary Clinton! He was on the Daily Show pimping a 'novel'! He's giving the 'my 5 year old grandchild understands cel phones' speech! Such a Statesman! Such an 'Idea Man'!

Newt "My 5 year old grandchild is only 17 years older than the next woman I'll leave a wife for" Gingrich? Yeah, him.

It's pretty hard to start out a run for President when your net positives are strongly in negative territory.

I still think huge numbers of Republican primary voters LOATHE McCain, both for his temerity in running against Bush, and his non-cooperation with the right-wing agenda. A full-out Bush-camp endorsement (which this article seems to want to hint at, but doesn't remotely substantiate) might, if Bush is truly viewed as demi-god by the right, take care of the first problem, but I don't see what it does for the second.

DH, I'd argue that field of competition, while offering nothing for me, is actually superior to the 2000 GOP gang -- a collection of such worthies as Bauer, Forbes, Quayle, Liddy Dole pre-anything but Red Cross. McCain was the clear class of that crew, too (hell, Hatch was probably second most-deserving), but the voters did as instructed and opted instead for the seeming non-entity from Crawford. Republicans, as Clinton memorably said, are just looking to fall in line -- and it's hard to see them making McCain their choice.

I agree the floor of this class is higher than the last one, but that's partly because Bush had already locked down so much of the institutional support as early as 1998, so McCain was the only potentially formidable candidate who had, as you aptly put it, the temerity to run against Bush. But this time, with the race wide-open, the cast of characters doesn't appear to have anyone who could come close to matching Bush's personal discipline fused with the skill of his team and depth of his resources.

One question I would have about a McCain candidacy would be how much money he could raise? His appeal is more general election, with I's who aren't as likely to give money in a primary, so I doubt he could generate the excitement and volumn of donations that Dean did. Being on Commerce gives him a natural FR base, but I don't know how much it can really do for him in a primary.


Re: McCain's fundraising. As someone who voted for McCain and Dean in the respective primaries, I believe a lot of McCain's fundraising will depend on how strongly Dean is able to endorse the Dem field.

I suspect 20 years from now, someone will be able to prove definitively that the folks who helped McCain set internet fundraising records in 2000 were the same people who helped Dean lead fundraising in the primary in 2004. There is a clear chunk of pragmatists in this country that are absolutely impatient with typical political claptrap who flocked to both McCain and Dean. Similar to Perot perhaps, but probably younger on average and perhaps more professionally competent.

Thus far, the discussion of the GOP primary talks about how the balance between the wingnut fundies and the business GOPers and the neocons will play out. If the fundies rule the day, McCain is probably sunk, unless the sea of mediocrity splits the field.

But McCain has access to something that none of the other candidates in the above list (particularly since Hagel was not named) has access to--this group of moderate pragmatists. They're not simply independents. They're people who will decide based on rhetoric and attitude and approach.

So I said a lot will depend on Dean. By that I mean, at least half (possibly much more) of those pragmatic moderates have most recently allied with Dean. Also, Dean got them involved in ways that McCain did not, he got them working themselves rather than just giving money. Still, McCain is awfully appealing to alot of these people.

The problem is, of course, that Dean will be in no position to say, "Hey Dean supporters! I think Wes Clark is the guy who can accomplish what we set out to do. Hey moderate pragmatists! Wes is the guy for you!" Dean needs to maintain his independence through the primary. Which means he'll have to find a way to say, "Hey moderate pragmatists, we've turned the Democratic party into a moderate pragmatist-friendly organization so you can rest assured that ANY ONE Of our candidates can carry your torch for you."

I have no doubt he'll try to do this. After all, he went to the mat for Kerry and clearly articulated to his supporters the importance of working for Kerry. But I just wonder whether it'll be convincing. About half of the Dean folks with whom I'm associated still get totally despondent about our party (even after we Deanies took over much of the local leadership in it). Given how bad things are now (and how much worse they're likely to be in two years), it may not matter. We shall see...

I can not see Dean supporters going to McCain unless they're absolute idiots; McCain strongly supported and continues to support the war in Iraq. If somebody goes from Dean to McCain they're a moron.

And don't believe the hype about McCain's internet fundraising; it was later shown that it was a massive exageration by Mike Murphy.

I guess I'm suggesting that people supported Dean for a whole host of reasons, of which his anti-war stance is but one, and of which is pragmatism is as important. It may be easy to dismiss this by saying, "well, McCain's a huge hawk," but that ignores some of the fundamental reasons why people supported Dean ... and McCain.

I have never seen the lure of McCain. He seems to talk tough, but the "maverick" stands has he ever taken such as campaign finance reform, fiscal responsibility and global warming seem such only because today's GOP is only interested in power. He is still pretty much a conservative, he is a hawk but not for idealistic reasons, like the liberal interventionists, and although he is libertarian in some respects, he is anti-abortion. Did you read the New Yorker profile? Recommended. (It is interesting that both W Bush and McCain have strong-willed, pro-choice mothers.)

I did support Dean, and consider myself more a pragmatist than a purist, but I could not see myself supporting McCain any more than Schwarzenegger, who is really more liberal and more of a "realist" than McCain.

McCain's appeal is the same as Hagel's: any time they open their mouth, there's always a chance they'll admit Bush is a moron and a loser, and oppose him on something.

Of course, they almost never do, but there's that spark and glimmer of hope...

Plus, neither McCain nor Hagel were chickenhawks, so the contrast is satisfying. It's kinda like "well, those guys are hawks, but at least they're not hypocrites about it." So like Mimikatz' point about them being not that bad compared to the rest of the GOP, the Repubs have set the bar so low that not being a hypocrite makes you admirable by comparison with the rest of the party.

I would think that Bush and Rove would believe that McCain is the strongest general election candidate. Will the religious right line up against McCain in defiance? Will Rove broker support? Remember, Rove is not done with his career; he wants to build a stronger majority. OTOH, Rove may believe so much in his own abilities that he thinks he can elevate anyone. Bill Owens, with his reunited family (?), might be a fine vehicle. So might Allen. Or somebody like Huckabee or Pawlenty -- "outsiders."

The New Yorker article makes me think that maybe there wasn't some 'secret deal' between Rove and McCain to support Bush in '04 (i.e. a payback come the '08 nomination). McCain clearly had doubts about Kerry; he made that known in the article through subordinates. So much for their "friendship." They're friends like you're friends with your boss.

A side note - if Hagel also runs, that has to hurt McCain in any kind of non-anointment scenario.

Who are the key figures to look at endorsement-wise to see if there might be a split in evangelical support next time around? How early did Dobson, Robertson, et. al. come out in 2000?

Obviously if these and other leaders unite the fundies, it would be a quick primary season. In my previous post I'm implying that Rove can corral them. Maybe that's wrong. But would they chance a real fight? Where the Bush legacy might be dragged into the mud? Where the influence of the relig right on the process would come into the open? I think it's best for them to unite and anoint as early as possible. But then again, I'm a rational reality guy.

It's actually possible you'll see Republicans needing to run away from Bush in '08, or at least not embrace him (like Clinton in 2000).

Crab: I think your second comment hits on the uncertainty much better. Betting on ties to Bush may not look very good in another two years. And who knows what's going to happen with the GOP and its religious right allies between now and 2007? I honestly don't.


I think you're dead wrong about the McCain/Dean thing. There are people like that, but they aren't voting in GOP primaries. I would guess maybe 10% of Dean's support was of that nature. Most of it was liberal: look at the demographic breakdowns from the NH and Iowa primaries. Dean did well amongst white collar self-identified liberals.

Ben P

Ben P,

You're right, my belief that this group exists comes mostly from anecdotal experience. A LOT of people I spoke to about Dean in IA talked about McCain. And obviously, NH has been good to McCain--although there is no statistical reason to believe the same people were good to Dean.

But it does seem pertinent that the next big thing every election cycle is the guy who speaks like a maverick and talks a lot about how the election system is broken. If you include Perot, we've had a version in three different parties, each time providing the excitement in the race.

McCain MIGHT be able to pull a similar run with INSTITUTIONAL support in 2008. I doubt it for a lot of reasons (his maverick creds are no longer believable, the institution would tamp down on them even more, and the fundies would bolt). But he MIGHT be able to.

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