McCain Hires Bushie for Faltering Presidential Campaign

Down at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference last weekend, The Hotline ran a straw poll measuring support for the presidential ambitions of leading Republicans. Historically, the SRLC straw poll has been seen as an effective way to gauge the race for the GOP nomination, with George W. Bush win in 1998 presaging his eventual success in the 2000 Republican primaries, for instance.

Sensing imminent defeat in the SRLC polling, Senator John McCain, a favorite of the national media, decided to "swing his weight" behind the President, telling conference attendees to write in George W. Bush in the straw poll as an indication of unwavering support for the White House. The trouble for McCain is that we saw through this not-so-subtle ruse and noticed that even if all write-ins for President Bush were counted as votes for McCain -- and even that's a stretch -- McCain's anemic 4.6 percent support would still be unimpressive at 15.9 percent, nowhere near a level of support that would warrant such glowing coverage from the national media.

The fact of the matter is that as of today, John McCain does not have a path to the 2008 GOP nomination -- and he know's it. It's no surprise, then, that McCain is so clearly and unabashedly embracing President Bush in an effort to endear himself to the Republican base. This effort is not limited to stale rhetoric at a conference of Republican insiders or stumping on Bush's behalf during the 2004 election. Today, the AP's Ron Fournier reports that McCain has hired a top Bush strategist and continues to woo another in an effort to breath some life into his faltering presidential campaign.

With an eye toward the 2008 presidential campaign, GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has hired one of President Bush's top re-election advisers to help run his political action committee.

Terry Nelson, political director of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, will be senior adviser to Straight Talk America, according to several official familiar with the hiring. They spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt an announcement by McCain's committee.


McCain is courting Bush's supporters, major fundraisers and advisers. Mark McKinnon, the president's chief media strategist, has signaled his willingness to help McCain unless Secretary of State     Condoleezza Rice or Florida Gov.     Jeb Bush gets in the race.

Both Rice and the president's brother have said they will not run.

Fournier hypothesizes that McCain's hiring of Nelson "may help McCain cast himself as the early front-runner and potential heir of Bush's political machine." Front-runner? I'm not sure that someone who could garner less than 5 percent support among key GOP activists could be labeled a front-runner, even in the inside-the-Beltway lalaland in which Fournier resides.

Political reporters and analysts need to wake up and realize two facts:

  1. John McCain is not the leading contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination; and,
  2. John McCain is not a rebel or a maverick who is interested in cleaning up Washington but instead a party hack willing to sell out what little principle he once had for a shot at the Republican nomination -- and a small shot, at that.

Once the media gets beyond the storyline that a Hillary/McCain matchup is inevitable, voters can begin taking a good look at who they actually would like to see in the White House. It's not Fournier's job to crown the next GOP nominee, or even grant a candidate "front-runner" status, nor is it Dick Morris' place to annoint Senator Clinton the shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. No, it's primary voters across the country who have a voice in the process, and, to a lesser extent, activists voting in straw polls like the one at the SRLC (or the one on MyDD, for that matter). And when voters have the actually have the opportunity to make a choice, the cocktail dinner types living in Georgetown might be surprised to find out just how out of touch they themselves actually are.

Tags: General 2008, John McCain, Republicans (all tags)



With all due respect: 'faltering'?

It's March 2006.  The guy will DESTROY any Democrat, and we all know it.  Rather than whistle past the graveyard, we should be changing our registrations across the country to help Allen or Brownback or Romney or any other certain GOP loser to beat McCain.

by tuffie 2006-03-18 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: With all due respect: 'faltering'?

oh god.  quit being a chicken little.  Dems need to stop being pussies.  that idea about a mass reregistering to stop McCain is so pie-in-the-sky.

Hillary's ream will eat McCain for breakfast, you watch.  Her team is the only one on our side effective enough to win a national election.

by jgarcia 2006-03-18 10:54AM | 0 recs
Hiring Nelson taints McCain

McCain's hiring Terry Nelson is very instructive, demonstrating again that he is merely another GOP lackey. Nelson was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the DeLay case for his alleged role in money laundering. .asp?ArticleID=2055

by MoCrash 2006-03-18 06:42AM | 0 recs
and ...

By this logic, FRIST is the front-runner?  Because of that absurd straw poll?  Come on.  McCain is locking up GOP money, the press will grovel before him as they have always done, and Rove will see McCain is the only one who can win in 2008 and extend Republican control.  Hey, I hope you're right ... but I don't see it.

by tuffie 2006-03-18 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Hires Bushie

While he may not be the frontrunner (and as said above, how can anyone really know who is the frontrunner in March of 2006), you can not use a straw poll in Frist's home state of TN to make the claim that McCain's campaign is faltering.  Straw Polls are notoriously rigged in favor of local or better funded candidates and not really signals of who the electorate will actually VOTE for. GOPers may decide in early 2008, like the Dems did about Dean, that whoever may be their ideological soulmate, they want to vote for someone who has a chance of winning.  Don't discount the fact that Republicans often put winning above ideology much more often than Dems do.

As for McCain being a party hack and not a reformer, this may be true in part, but the perception is that he is a maverick, and in politics perception IS reality.  Moreover, McCain has never shied away from the conservative label.  When there were reports that Kerry wanted him to run as his VP, McCain said "These guys haven't looked at my voting record."  He seems moderate becuase of the areas in which he does agree with Dems but he is a conservative in social policy and has always been that way.

by Ian in DC 2006-03-18 06:47AM | 0 recs
McCain will be older in 2008 than Reagan in 1980.

McCain in 2008 is not McCain in 2000.  He will be 8 years older than he was in 2000.  In Aug, 2008 he will be 72, which is 2 1/2 years older than Ronald Reagan was when he ran in 1980.  In 2012 he would be 76, again 2 1/2 years older than Reagan in 1984.  Although Reagan won, he was pretty old by then, and with incipient Alzheimer's.

McCain was a prisoner of war for several years, which had to have affected his health, and has had skin cancer, albeit skin cancer.  With all the other baggage he has, he isn't a good standard bearer for change, which is what the GOP (like the Dems) will need in 2008, nor will he be seen as someone who can lock up the WH for another 8 years.

This is apart from the fact that he is not moderate and is way too hawkish for where a candidate needs to be in 2008.

by Mimikatz 2006-03-18 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain will be older in 2008

exactly.  presidential campaigns are all about timing.  and McCain's time is LONG gone.  as soon as people realize his age and poor health, he's done.  if he's even alive in 2008.

by jgarcia 2006-03-18 10:52AM | 0 recs
McCain has NO family values

McCain has voted 95% with the Bush Agenda
McCain supported an administration which defamed his wife and daughter.
McCain consorts with an administration which defamed his non-white daughter.

No Adoptive parent with a heart and soul would allow anyone to Trash their child. Why do I know that? I am the mother of two young adults adopted from Korea 20 years ago. NO ONE messes with MY kids..... If you want to see the "Momma Bear" come out..... just try and mess with my kids.

As An Arizonian, I will work day and night to defeat McCain for any office he runs for.
He has NO Family Values

by katymine 2006-03-18 07:39AM | 0 recs
They might be catching

Last week, two of the panelists, including Donna Brazile who tends to waver on many issues, noted that McCain's "vote for Bush" stunt was lame, and came across as fake. Howard Fineman, who was at the SRLC, was on AL Franken and said he sensed a lot of excitement among them about Allen and Romney, but nothing for McCain. Also, dont assume that everyone who voted for Bush were McCain delegates instructed to do so. That's kind of the trick McCain is tring to pull.

by jj32 2006-03-18 07:43AM | 0 recs
Every time I read a McCain expose,

because it is so rare to find in the media, I fell like I have been given a treat, like I came home from a hard day and my wife is standing naked in the kitched holding a hot fudge sundae for me.

by Sam Loomis 2006-03-18 12:23PM | 0 recs


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