Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain and Conservatives

John McCain and his campaign are have been making an attempt in recent weeks to reach out to social conservatives, largely because McCain is finally figuring out that he can't win without this critical Republican voting bloc. McCain's biggest problem seems to be that many social conservatives are still quite wary of him:

But Ms. Viars, who is among a cluster of socially conservative activists in Ohio being courted by Senator John
’s campaign through regular e-mail messages, is taking a wait-and-see attitude for now toward Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

“I think a lot of us are in a holding pattern,” said Ms. Viars, who
added that she wanted to see whom Mr. McCain picked for his running mate.

The campaign has been peppering over 600 socially conservative grass-roots and national leaders with regular e-mail messages — highlighting, for example, Mr. McCain’s statement criticizing a May 15 decision by the California Supreme Court overturning the state’s ban on
same-sex marriage, or his recent speech on his judicial philosophy. It has also held briefings for small groups of conservative leaders before key speeches. Charlie
, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers, recently sat down with a dozen prominent evangelical leaders in Washington, where he emphasized, among other things, Mr. McCain’s consistent anti-abortion voting record.

“For John McCain to be competitive, he has to connect with the base to the point that they’re intense enough that they’re contagious,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Right now they’re not even

John McCain must at least be given credit for making an effort to reach out to social conservatives, but the problem is that McCain has made no concrete promises to the great high church of the conservative movement that can be relied upon. The thing that most social conservatives are most concerned about is the state of the federal courts. As I have written in this space before, it is on the issue of the federal bench that most social conservatives invest most of their energy, and it is on the matter of judges alone that most of us supported the President for a second term (and he has delivered).

John McCain seems to lack the understanding that the judicial appointment power of the President is the primary concern which motivates social conservatives in the modern era. Perhaps the problem is far deeper, since it seems that John McCain simply doesn't understand social conservatives or religious people.

No one is asking that John McCain "see the light" and embrace all that the social right has championed for years overnight. While such a conversion should be welcomed, it would likely be met with great skepticism since Senator McCain's record simply would not reflect his newfound cause. Instead, John McCain must demonstrate that his ears are open and he is willing to listen to social conservatives, especially on the critical issue of the federal courts. Mr. McCain's choice of a running mate could bring the social Right a long way toward giving him the chance he desires from them.

It is true that conservatives-especially social conservatives-increasingly have no place for Barack Obama. With each day that passes, Mr. Obama manages to make the conservative stomach turn. The prospect of his election is viewed in conservative circles is now widely viewed as absolutely unacceptable. If John McCain believes that merely because conservatives think his opponent is far worse than he, that we shall go right along humming his tune without the expectation of anything in return, he is in for a rude awakening. If Jogn McCain wins in November, it will be because outraged conservatives go to the polls in numbers in key swing States to vote against Barack Obama. Not a day will go by in a McCain Administration when John McCain will not be reminded of that reality.

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