Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lining up against the establishment

The Florida Republican Primary takes place today amidst an atmosphere of increasing acrimony between John McCain and Mitt Romney as it now becomes increasingly clear that Florida (and perhaps the nomination fight itself) has become a race between these two men:

“By our calculation, a family of four would have to spend about an extra $1,000 a year if McCain-Lieberman became law,” Romney said, standing outside at Texaco station at dawn and discussing the measure his rival sponsored with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). “And again that's because gasoline would rise in price by approximately .50 cents a gallon and natural gas would rise about 20 percent. The burden on Florida homeowners would obviously be excessive.”

"I would note that Senator McCain is noted for three major pieces of legislation. I think all of them were badly flawed,” Romney said, widening his attack to incorporate McCain’s campaign finance legislation and the immigration reform bill “And if somebody wants to know where he would lead the country you simply need to look at the three pieces of legislation with his name at the top.”

Romney is correct about the major legislation McCain has sponsored, all of which makes John McCain's conservative credentials highly suspect. McCain has been running around Florida calling Romney a liberal, but Bill Clinton himself has said that Hillary is "very close" with John McCain. It makes one wonder where he is getting some of his legislative ideas.

The party establishment is now beginning to coalesce around John McCain, who received the endorsement of Florida Governor Charlie Crist on Sunday. Perhaps most significant to Tennesseans is that the honorary national Chair of the Fred Thompson campaign, former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, has now officially endorsed McCain. Like every Republican in this State, I have a tremendous amount of personal respect for Howard Baker-it is hard not to admire the man who did more than anyone else in the modern era to bring the GOP to Statewide electability here. He also served as President Reagan's Chief of Staff, and there are very few of us who, if Howard Baker called us up and asked us to do something, would not do it just because Howard Baker asked. Baker is an establishment man through and through, however. He opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980 (dropping out of the race after losing to Reagan in New Hampshire), and was appointed Chief of Staff partly as an olive branch to moderates within the party. One Tennessee State legislator (not Stacey Campfield) told me privately that Baker's influence over Fred Thompson was "the worst thing that could ever happen to the Thompson campaign." I can't say whether that is true or not, but Fred's performance didn't exactly help the argument that Baker's role in the campaign was a good thing. Baker's endorsement is not a signal that McCain is the most trustworthy of conservative candidates, but merely that the politically shrewd Baker believes McCain is the most electable one.

If the Country Club circuit has really lined up behind John McCain, then conservatives may need to unite behind one candidate for the sole purpose of stopping McCain-a step that some in Tennessee have decided to take. Florida is the great test for McCain, because unlike New Hampshire or South Carolina, Florida has a closed Primary. While it is possible in theory for Democrats and independents to vote in the Republican Primary, the process for doing so is just cumbersome enough that we can safely say that the winner in Florida will be chosen by Republicans. If McCain is beaten in Florida, it is going to be very hard for him to be nominated. If he wins there, he will have proven that he can win among Republicans, and to defeat him, conservatives must unite on February 5th.

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At Tuesday, January 29, 2008 3:45:00 PM, Blogger Rob Huddleston said...

Dave -

The latest polls I have been seeing show the conservative voters in Tennessee lining up behind Huckaphony. I credit that to the work of the homeschoolers, the Family Research Council, and the American Family Association. These were all 3 groups with whom I was alligned, but I have to question their convictions after their assistance to Huck.



At Wednesday, January 30, 2008 4:54:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

The AFA is to be expected, since social issues are essentially the only issues they care about. As for those other groups, it may be that they are looking merely to stop McCain...they may end up putting Huckabee on McCain's ticket if nominated.

At Friday, February 01, 2008 5:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, Rob, et al.,
Their convictions are to their "values." All other things are secondary and hence, expendable. If the Dems endorsed their 'values' and Repubs didn't they'd all be liberals. Make no mistake about that.
The simple facts are:
1.) McCain is, at best, a squishy conservatve who once said bad things about them and then tried to suck back up to them and they haven't forgotten. Plus, their leaders have said bad things about McCain and they remember that.
2.) Romney, besides being a squishy conservative himself is Mormon. They have been taught that Mormons aren't really Christian. Voting for a Morman is tantamont to voting for a Muslim - they ain't gonna do it. Period.
3.) Paul is a flake and wants to get out of Iraq thus leaving the USA open to an Islamo-fascist takeover and the destruction of Israel. Without Israel, Jesus can't come back. They want Jesus to come back. I'm being very overly simplistic and snarky but they really do believe that - their Scofield Bibles make it clear what the Bible says about the end-times and Israel's role in all that as the Left Behind book series makes quite clear.
The only one that's left is Huckabee, a SBC preacher, a true Bible beleiver, and Republican enough.
Something else that few have mentioned is the disenchantment of conservatives caused by W's eight years. W made all the correct noises but really failed to deliver much on the "values voters" agenda and both McCain and Romney sound like W Part 2 and they're not going to fall for that again.
Finally, soemthing else to consider; If, big IF, either McCacin or Romney win in November WITHOUT the imprintmatuer of the leadership of the "Values Voters" their influence, clout, whatever will be gone! They'll be trivialized and will have to wait another generation before being considered important in anyone's base. This will have serious implications to egoes and wallets of the leaders of the Chrisitian Right.



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