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Dan Balz's Take

McCain and the Disaffected GOP Base


John McCain returns a salute to veterans at a campaign event in Florence, S.C. (AP).

By Dan Balz
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- John McCain's route to the Republican nomination in 2008 has long been fraught with contradictions.

Could the maverick of 2000 become the establishment favorite in 2008? Could McCain run as both an opponent and proponent of President Bush's Iraq war strategy? Could the opponent of Bush's tax cuts convincingly explain why he was now a defender? Could the leading Senate advocate for comprehensive immigration reform persuade conservatives he had become a secure-the-borders-first believer? Could the politician who has never led on social issues become a convincing pro-lifer?

All those strands will come together in South Carolina on Saturday, when McCain's campaign will receive either a significant boost or a major setback. A victory in Saturday's primary could give the Arizona senator valuable momentum heading toward the next critical GOP contest in Florida. A loss, coming five days after his defeat in Michigan, could make his win in New Hampshire look like an aberration and leave him struggling.

But no matter the outcome here, there remains an incongruity to his candidacy that he will be confronting as he seeks to bind together a fractured Republican coalition. He seeks to be the establishment choice, but the exit polls from early states indicate that he is now the candidate of the discontented.

Exit polls from the two states where he competed most vigorously -- New Hampshire and Michigan -- show that McCain is the favorite of those Republicans who are least happy with the president. He is the candidate of those who are unhappy with the Iraq war. He is the candidate of those who are most worried about the economy. Can he become the true leader of his party largely on the basis of that appeal?

Start with attitudes about the president. In Michigan, Mitt Romney beat McCain by 20 points among those Republican voters who said they had positive feelings about the Bush administration. McCain won by 11 points among those who said they had negative feelings about the administration. In New Hampshire, he beat Romney by 14 points among those who have negative feelings toward the administration, while losing narrowly among those who said they were positive.

McCain put his candidacy on the line last winter by supporting Bush's troop surge policy, but in both Michigan and New Hampshire, he was the choice of those opposed to the war rather than those who support it. In Michigan, Romney beat him by 15 points among the more than three-in-five Republican voters who expressed approval for the war, while McCain won more narrowly among those opposed. In New Hampshire, he won by 25 points among anti-Iraq GOP voters, but lost among those who support the war.

Those numbers suggest McCain is on the wrong side of two fault lines in the Republican party, favored by the minority who oppose the war and by the larger minority who are truly unhappy with the Bush administration. His success in coming events may depend in part on the size of those constituencies.

Attitudes toward the economy tell a similar story about McCain's appeal to the disaffected. Much was made about Romney's victory in Michigan and the role economic anxiety played in his success. But the exit polls showed that Romney did best among those Michigan voters who had positive views about the economy, not those most worried about it.

Three in 10 Michigan voters said the economy was in good shape, and Romney beat McCain among them by 20 points. Among the half of the electorate who said it was not so good, Romney won narrowly over McCain, while among the roughly one-in-six who said it was in poor shape, McCain narrowly defeated Romney. In New Hampshire, McCain won among voters worried about the economy, while Romney won among those not particularly worried.

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News national poll, McCain has a statistically significant lead over his rivals among those Republicans who disapprove of Bush, but not among those who approve of the president. The same is true of attitudes toward Bush on the economy.

McCain was in Columbia Thursday afternoon for a rally inside a rain-soaked tent adjacent to his campaign headquarters. It was a rally in search of a simple message.

State legislators rose to praise McCain for his courage, leadership, steadfastness on Iraq and backbone. "You may not have always agreed with him on every issue," said one, "but you knew where he stood."

His wife, Cindy, introduced him as an exemplar of family values. She related the story of bringing a baby with serious medical needs back to the United States at the urging of Mother Teresa and then telling her husband upon arrival in Los Angeles that she wanted them to take the child into their home. This was the same child who made McCain and his wife targets of a vicious smear campaign here in the 2000 primary.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma offered McCain cover on the issue of abortion. But Coburn also seemed to speak for the old Bob Dole, green eye-shade wing of the Republican divide on fiscal policy, touting McCain's determination to cut spending and rein in the deficit. Jack Kemp, the very symbol of supply-side Republicanism, offered praise from the opposite direction as he spoke effusively about the power of cutting taxes. "John McCain," he said, "will get us out of this recession."

McCain is entertaining, if not always convincing, when he talks about the economy -- one of his least favorite topics. He prefers to talk about national security and other issues, but he knows now that, with the housing market in crisis, the stock market tumbling and economic anxiety rising, he must talk about it -- and so he did.

He promised tax and spending cuts, railed against Democrats who want to repeal the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans and promised to bring back Alan Greenspan to head a commission to overhaul the tax code that would present Congress with an up-or-down package.

"Whether he's alive or dead, it doesn't matter," he said to laughter from the audience about making Greenspan the commission leader. "Put some dark glasses on him like [the movie] 'Weekend at Bernie's.'"

Ticking through the names of his economic brains trust, McCain added, "I don't pretend to know all the answers, my friends, and I'm not going to look you in the eye and tell you that I do. But I'll tell you, I'm going to surround myself with people that know most of the answers."

Throughout the long campaign, McCain has tried to learn from the lessons of 2000 and make himself more acceptable to the Republican voters in general and the party establishment in particular. In some important ways he's managed to do that.

But his remains a candidacy based on grievance and a willingness to say unpopular things. Whether that will be enough to win the Republican nomination in this very unusual year isn't clear now, and may not be for some time. But as McCain likes to say, he isn't running for president to do the easy things.

Posted at 1:39 PM ET on Jan 18, 2008  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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I could never vote for John McCain for President.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, I would not vote for him in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox; I would not vote for him anywhere, and my name is not even Sam!

I could vote for Huckabee as VP. I think he would bring values to the forefront, but I really, really don't think he is competent to be President, yet.

Giuliani is a problem for me because he is pro-choice and, well, because he has never inspired me as a leader, which should embarrass him because he has written a book called Leadership.

I can't vote for Ron Paul because he is a Libertarian more than a Republican, even though I agree with many of the things he says.

I won't vote for Bloomberg, because he is an Independent. I won't vote for Hillary because she is a Democrat related to Bill Clinton. I would vote for Barack, but he is a Democrat not related to Bill Clinton. John Edwards' anti-capitalist views make me queazey. (sp?)

I won't vote for Fred, because he won't be available to vote for by the time I get to vote. He is out of money, out of time.

Fortunately, there is one competent candidate left that I can rally behind, Mitt Romney, but this article is not about him, so I can't really bring him up, now can I?

Posted by: Jed_Merrill | January 19, 2008 5:42 AM

Oh and one more thing before bedtime. Convince me on when Senator McCain hasn't been pro-life...

Posted by: rnaomiol | January 19, 2008 2:43 AM

P.S. Sorry I'm late. I'm new to this site.

Posted by: rnaomiol | January 19, 2008 2:29 AM

If you don't pay attention to current events, let me clue you in on something. Free nations of the world are not buying oil from Iran because the country is run by people who support terrorists. Therefore, the only thing in the middle east going up at the mention of the next President of the United States John McCain's name is the blood pressure of the Islamo-facists who hate Americans.

Posted by: rnaomiol | January 19, 2008 2:21 AM

I greatly admire John McCain. Currently, I support Mike Huckabee. I'm concerned the the Republican party has divided between social conservative (Huckabee), fiscal conservatives (Romney) and national security types (McCain). What I'm proposing is that we all agree to settle on Fred Thompson. I could settle for Fred, and I think we all could. Let's come together and focus on November.

http://www.fredconsensus.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cpatter6 | January 19, 2008 1:29 AM

Hey, all you anti-amnesty xenophobic haters out there. You're a pathetic little minority.

If even a portion of the GOP, much less the nation as a whole, was as f*cked in the head as you are, Tom Tancredo wouldn't have had to drop out of the race months ago.

If you had any depth of support beyond your own KKK-like circle-jerk, Tancredo, your own little David Duke, would have been able to at least last until the New Year.

I know you're slow learners, but didn't that tell you anything?

So why don't all you haters STFU.

The US tried to buy the Great Southwest from Mexico, and when they said, "No, thank you", we contrived yet another war, and stole the land from them as "war gains".

Now it is being taken back one returnee at a time. Karma~you gotta love it. And you gotta love the symmetry of history.

Posted by: filmex | January 18, 2008 11:54 PM

THE issue is illegal aliens' employment by criminal employers who the current government refuses to convict.
Look at CALIFORNIA FENCES' history of using illegal aliens to build fences in many States, even a part of THE fence. The Federal District Attorney in San Diego had the sob dead to rights and proceeded with charges. Mr. Bush ordered his chanin of command to fire her; she was. The case vs the criminal employer came to trial, finally, but the "trial judge" (undoubtedly following orders from the White House) slapped the sob on the wrist with a short "house detention". What a load of krappp. It is no wonder few Americans any longer really believe in what used to be their own country. We are headed for a spanish-speaking man-on-a-horse to finish killing off the USA. Mr. Bush would do so today if he could.

Posted by: tucanofulano | January 18, 2008 10:56 PM

LOL! Immigration? What does any of it have to do with Immigration?

An Amnesty would make it an immigration, but then the CRIMINAL EMPLOYERS who WANT UN-DOCUMENTED workers, would just have to find new ones! Do we really want to Force 12 million Illegal Workers to lose their jobs because now they are legal, and now able to apply for un-Employment-They never contributed to!

IT IS AN EMPLOYMENT ISSUE!

THAT, is what Mitt Romney understands! When he talks about enforcing our existing Laws, he means the Federal requirement for W-4'S. Payrolled workers, not Cash Payed Un-Documented Workers!

Deport 12 Million? Cut off their meal Tickets, and watch them magically disappear.

I wish! Truth, they will show up at ICE, and get free rides back!

Posted by: rat-the | January 18, 2008 7:10 PM

I swear if I read one more retarded post rambling on about "amnesty" I'm gonna scream! When will you idiots get it? We are simply NOT going to round up 12,000,000 people, some of whom have been here for decades, and forcibly deport them. IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! UNDERSTAND? Get that simple fact through your thick skulls!

McCain's immigration proposals reflect that fundemantal fact, as do those of Rudy Giuliani. The way that Mitt Romney has shamelessly demagogued this particular issue is disgusting. He's appealing to the basest, racist instincts of people in a desperate attempt to get the GOP nomination, whereupon he would then quickly "modify" that position to try and win the general election. The guy is totally plastic. I wouldn't believe him if he told me it was raining outside.

McCain is proposing that we truly secure the border while, at the same time, taking steps to assimilate those already here. This is both practical and compassionate. Since McCain is the only Republican with a prayer of winning the general election, the alternative is either President Clinton or President Obama. And with a Democratic president, you can be sure that NOTHING will change with regard to immigration. The border will remain open. Some of you "amnesty monkeys" might want to consider that if you're so burned up about illegal immigration. McCain is the least bad option you have.

Posted by: danram | January 18, 2008 6:03 PM

Hey there, american1:

I've read all your posts on this issue and can't determine who you think should be the next President of the United States of America. Not McCain - ok; - not Hillary - ok; not Obama - ok; ...then who?

We've going to have a NEW President...who do you recommend?

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 18, 2008 5:10 PM

McCain is a amnesty peddler I can not tell you how many folks I've talked to who will sit out this election cycle if he is the Republican nominee.Hundreds of thousanjds of border security folks will do likewise.Just this week a delegation of Mexican officials from Sonora Mexico went to Arizona to complain about the new tough anti-illegal immigration law in the state.They are complaining that if the illegals can't work they will all come back to Sonora and overwhelm the schools anbd hospitals and the city itself.There logic being that most of these folks while from Mexico are not from their city.So there you have it folks it's alright with them if theses people overwhelm our schools,hospitals and services but not theirs and they are their countrymen.Mexico and the open borders lobby is also preparing to spend a est 25 million $$ in the 08 election cycle to looby for amnesty,path to citizenship wahtever.

The McCain plan last year called for a Z visa issued in 24hrs at which time all background checks had to be completed and the visa was re-newable indefinitely so the person never really had to become a citizen.John McCain no thank you!!!

Posted by: Phillip0829 | January 18, 2008 5:03 PM

Thirty five years ago John McCain served this country with honor and distinction. Now he is just another politician who will do or say almost anthing for a vote.

Posted by: jsori | January 18, 2008 4:55 PM

Less face the truth Mexico has a official policy of offloading their Uneducated peons, criminals and other undesirables on the USA. They provide them documents and instruction in the form of funny papers (because many if not most cannot read) on how to avoid the border parole. How to get illegal documents and jobs in the USA. By off loading their uneducated peons, criminals and other undesirables on American taxpayers they avoid a revolution in Mexico and improve the standard of living while gaining billions in remittance back to Mexico. They play the race very effective and appeal to the Compassion of American citizens. In the long run maybe the most effective thing we could do for Mexico is deport every illegal Mexican in the USA. After having lived here and getting used to the standard of living here if we send back the 12 to 30 million back to Mexico they would demand a better, less corrupt government. It may require an revolution there but the end results hopefully would be a better country! Mexico as countries go is rich there is no reason they cannot do a better job in caring for their citizens.

Posted by: american1 | January 18, 2008 4:45 PM

Let's start a poster survey.

Regarding american1:

How old do you think he is?

How many grades of HS do you think he successfully passed?

How old do you think he was until he moved out of his parents' basement?

How many girlfriends (mail-order brides excepted) do you think he has had?

How many illegal immigrants has he ever met/seen/talked to in his life?

How many foreign countries do you think he has ever visited?

What percentage of his opinions did he come into by doing "research" while listening to Rush Limbaugh?

I'll start. My guesses: 42, 8, 26, 2, 0, 0, 100.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 18, 2008 4:42 PM

If, you havent heard, MCCain is talking to Joe lieberman for Vice President.
Lieberman, was'nt this the guy Karl Rove, use to call Loserman. In the same year they discover McCain had a Black child, with his mistress in South Carolina, How time have changed, this kid should be around 7 or 8 years old....

Posted by: llevario2 | January 18, 2008 4:38 PM

McCain looks so credible in part because the other Republicans in the race are such a sad lot. Yes, McCain sold out on the tax cut issue. Yes, he's kissed up to the social conservatives. Yes, he is crumbling on immigration reform. However, compared to Romney (who would put on a grass skirt and strum the ukelele if he thought that would get him votes), Giuliani (little more than a brazen opportunist), Huckabee (no appeal outside the evangelicals) and Thompson (can't even get on get on the radar screen), McCain looks like a genuine statesman in possession of rock solid integrity. Like they say in baseball, any team with some talent can win the pennant if the league is crummy enough.

Posted by: Pheidole | January 18, 2008 4:35 PM

It is past time for someone to help McNut on his Senile Express and pick up his good friend and partner in Treason the well known Drunk and Killer Kennedy and head for the nearest old folks home for the Senile & the Demented!

Posted by: american1 | January 18, 2008 4:31 PM

"Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?"

Well, I don't buy it. The average Mexican family is clean, gets as much education as they can afford and is law abiding. But they are used to a corrupt law enforcement system and may think bribes are normal. We are lucky to have them on our border.

Posted by: gary4books | January 18, 2008 4:24 PM

"AMNESTY-JUAN IS YOUR GRI'NGO!"

You can bet your boots on that one. He will be President.

Then you will see that solving the immigrant problem is not amnesty. That what you sy is just another propaganda slogan to keep a good man down.

Like the current program for workers in the USA.

Posted by: gary4books | January 18, 2008 4:20 PM

We have an arrogant, incompetent, illiterate, and inept fool in the White House, a demoralized and decimated military, plundered treasury, trashed world standing, trampled rule of Law and Constitution. While the nation is sinking under debt and a tidal wave of Uneducated Illegal Aliens waving the Mexican flag, demanding their rights, while feasting at the trough of Public Welfare, as they Kill, Rob, and Rape thousands of American Citizens each year. Yet the Candidates like McCain & the Democrats are pandering for the Latino vote instead of addressing the problems and the ramifications by implying or promising Amnesty!

We as a nation can survive fools in our White House. What we CANNOT survive is fools both in our Congress and white house like Bush, McCain, Hillary, Obama, etc. Each promising a new American, rebuilding the middle class and taking care of the poor. But what they refuse to acknowledge or recognize is no single Nation or people is rich enough to lift the 100,s of millions of poor out of poverty. In others words American & American taxpayers cannot bear the cost of becoming the welfare state for Mexico and Latin American. To attempt to do so will only reduce all Americans to poverty equaling what the uneducated invaders are fleeing from in their home countries. The poor and criminals pouring across our Borders have an average of an six grade education. Each person with less than a high education average an net cost of 20k per year for American taxpayers. So the displaced compassion, flawed logic, or just pandering for votes, endorsed by Edwards, Obama, McCain, Hillary . is deeply flawed. Failure to close our border or to give Amnesty to the 12 to 30 millions of Illegal Aliens in this country will in the long run, with the Chain Immigration result in adding 100 to 160 millions poor citizens to our welfare rolls. Their high school drop out rates exceed 50 percent with a high crime rate and a very high illegitimate birth rate, this is very combination that keeps Mexico & Latin American a cesspool of crime, corruption, poverty & misery!

Maybe the results is what the multinational companies and the rich dream of, a Nation full of poor docile labors like China, India, Mexico, but I do not believe it is the future most Americans aspire to for their children and grand children!

In all, my country, a potential benefactor and beacon for all the world - is headed right off a cliff and to an third world status!

In my view - - this has all come to pass because the Politicians, the elected and sworn stewards of this country, both Republicans & Democrats have allowed it to happen. Surely they should have known better when they build bridges to nowhere, when they wasted 100,s of billion in pork and sold their votes to the highest bidder....when they refused to abide by the Constitution against invasion or enforce the very laws they passed, they have disgraced and dishonored their oath of office and brought shame upon our Nation. One way this Nation can start to recover is for the lot of them to be gone from those hallowed halls of Congress and the White House, because most of them have become a house of party-bound Prostitutes paid by the special interests, swirling and partying, amidst the rubble of their own malfeasance - taking this Nation right down in the gutter with them.

If the Politicians with the Citizens support, decide they must do more for the worlds poor then they must find a way like an Marshall plan for Latin American. What they must not be allowed to do, though flawed logic, false compassion, or by criminal intent is to turn this Nation into a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, and Misery by continuing the open borders policy and Amnesty for the millions of uneducated peons pouring across our borders.

As a proud and concerned American that proudly served my Country in time of War as did my Father, my two brothers and my son. I am appalled and very angry at what self severing, stupid/corrupt politicians have done to my country!

Posted by: american1 | January 18, 2008 4:17 PM

McCain's God,s Children Argument!
Then there is they are all God,s children argument(Another McCain favor) well isn't everyone God,s children? If so then guess McCain is saying everyone and anyone has the right to Invade this Nation, waving their flags, demand their rights, while feasting at the trough of public welfare and Kill, Rape and Rob thousands of American citizens each year!

McCain's Lettuce Argument!
There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $50/head (or starving)( McCain really likes this argument) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. I have did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

Immigrant Argument!
There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since Everyone's an immigrant.

Stole Southwest Argument!
There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

Illegal pay taxes Argument!

There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

Illegal Bad..Amnesty good Argument!

There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but make them citizens and problem solved" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially. In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass amnestying them.


Finally, I offer my distilled observations of what mass immigration is doing to our country based on living in southern California

The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded health care facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don't assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.
Most that come across our open borders come from countries where, Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery, Anti-education, and hate for Americans has existed for centuries and is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?

Posted by: american1 | January 18, 2008 4:11 PM

buzzm1:

If I had to guess, I would say the Thompson pulls off an upset in South Carolina.

thebobbob:

I am an evangelical, and my FIRST choice right now is Mitt Romney -- so, you were saying?

Posted by: JakeD | January 18, 2008 3:52 PM

One must believe the earth is flat to win the hypublicrit base.

Posted by: TheSage1 | January 18, 2008 3:49 PM

Winging it:

My prediction is that McCain will get tromped by Huckabee in South Carolina.

The big difference?

You will have to ask Juan "Varone de Amnistia" McCain, if he understands why he lost. He keeps forgetting why he gets his butt kicked. Senile Juan.

Posted by: buzzm1 | January 18, 2008 3:35 PM

We the people are fed up with the violations of the Republican Party and McCain is the only legitimate Republican seeking the nomination. We are going to have a revolution - American Style.
Ohg
http://thefiresidepost.com/2008/01/18/violations-of-our-constitution-revolution/

Posted by: glclark4750 | January 18, 2008 3:32 PM

Gee ImpeachNow! As someone who speaks fluent Spanish and English; who thinks, dreams, and appreciate fully both languages; and who was born in el barrio (Barrio Obrero, Puerto Rico, that is), may I suggest that you do a little research next time you want to insult us Spanish-speaking types? It's not "Hurra para la amnistia!", it's "Viva la amnistia!"

I always love those nativist types, probably some of those huddled masses yearning to be free who back when their parents or grandparents came to this country 100 years ago, were probably the ones that were the target of the very vitriol they spout.

To paraphrase the improbable sage, Cher Horowitz from Clueless, "In conclusion, there is no RSVP on the Statue of Liberty."

Posted by: Kruhnn | January 18, 2008 3:25 PM

With so many worried about amnesty and someone that is not a true balanced social and fiscal conservative, why not choose Huckabee. He just signed a "No Amnesty Pledge" yesterday and Time Magazine voted him one of America's Best Governors for his 10.5 years in governorship. The guy has proven experience (he balanced his state budget unlike others)and is not a Washington insider. He is the only candidate on both the democrat and republican side that is not a millionaire! These are a few of the reasons why he has struck a cord with most people because he knows what they are facing on a day by day basis. Have you seen the national poll lately he is number one.

Posted by: alanmissions | January 18, 2008 3:22 PM

Mr. Balz, sounds to me, like he is simply being promoted as a spoiler by people with obvious Tudes!
When you consider that McCain is one of the biggest promoters of the status quo, it makes zero sense why anyone dissatified with things would ever support him-Unless they percieve him to be easily defeated down the road!

Now, if I was a Democrat, and I wanted to try to wreck the GOP Nomination, I could not think of a more Democrat Friendly Candidate to vote for-Against Romney!

Posted by: rat-the | January 18, 2008 3:21 PM

I'm amazed at how McCain is pilloried by party faithful for his stance on immigration (which is pretty typical for border-state politicians, actually)... yet he's given little or no credit for his pricipled stand of NO TORTURE.

The fact that other GOP candidates have such a hard time calling waterboarding what it is--torture--is amazing. But that may reflect the fact that Sen McCain is the only one who served in the military, and anyone who's spent any time in the military took Low of Armed Conflict (LOAC) training and basic military history.

This, to me, is one of the basic American principles that sets us apart. Bush and his allied have ceded away our moral standing on this.

Posted by: Alan4 | January 18, 2008 3:20 PM

No Republican can win in '08. The right-wingnuts won't vote for McCain, the evangelicals won't vote for Romney and they're the only ones who will vote for Huckabee. The only chance McCain has is if Hilary is nominated the Democratic candidate. She might be able to unite the Republican party, but I doubt it.

Bush has screwed up everything he's toughed with the full support of all the Republicans and now they need to crawl away nd let intelligent competent grownups take over.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 18, 2008 3:13 PM

He may be the one who is nominated, but he has no chance to win.

I graduated from UA in Tucson. read the Tucson Citizen comments section on articles relating to McCain. He has little support in AZ, much less the rest of the country.

He was a maverick in 2000. Now he's just old.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | January 18, 2008 3:11 PM

I'm appalled that Dan spells "President" president. There is absolutely no excuse for that from a man in his position.

Posted by: tteates | January 18, 2008 3:05 PM

I'm still furious at McCain for flipping on the tax cut issue, but he is our only prayer against a Bush-type continuation of bad fiscal policy and corporate welfare under a Romney presidency. McCain may not have always adhered to hi principles, but at least he had some in the first place.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | January 18, 2008 3:00 PM

"AMNESTY-JOHN"
-- Even if you're right... congress is controlled by the democrats. Do you think Democrats are going to vote for 12 million illegals (5% of America) to leave America on "the trail of tears"?

So the question is not what is the theoretical best thing to do... the question becomes: is a bad bill better than no bill at all?

Doing nothing is the same thing as amnesty... so is it "Amnesty George"?

Additionally, try to run a campaign saying you will kick out 12 million Mexicans. See how many "Legal Mexicans" will not find this offensive and vote for your party.

Even if you're right, which you're not, this is no way to win an election. And it could never pass. What a stupid position to take!

Posted by: rmcquillen | January 18, 2008 2:59 PM

I think that John McCain if the only possible candidate that the REPUBLICAN PARTY can put forward to beat the Dems in Nov. However, the party faithful will not put McCain forward because he can't get by the primaries - he is too logical and anchored in ethical opinion for the folks who think that undocumented/illegal immigration must be punished - without exception. ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTION!! EVER!!

These folks KNOW that this country is a nation of laws and, with the exception of pork barrel spending (in their backyards), incestuous lobbyist influence on the drafting of laws, special interest donations to candidates later cashed in for "better" laws, and business bailouts, we must live and die by the law...whatever it happens to be at the moment....if interpreted and sustained by "good" constructionist judges. The LAW is the Law - and that's the law. PERIOD.

Now ---> if the law were to change...

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | January 18, 2008 2:50 PM

Straight-talking John pandered and flip-flopped like crazy on taxes.

As for his supporters frequently opposing the Iraq war, that only confirms what many people suspect: that John McCain is largely supported by people who don't pay much attention or suffer from amnesia. That's why his popularity goes up and down like a yo-yo.

McCain was hugely in favour of invading Iraq.

McCain is also so aggressive about Iran that just mentioning his name causes the price of oil to go up.

Don't like stupid wars? Don't vote John McCain.

Posted by: Bud0 | January 18, 2008 2:48 PM

If you support amnesty for illegal immigrants, you have only ONE clear choice in this election: AMNESTY-JOHN McCain.

You can rest assured that after another half-hearted effort at "securing our boarders", AMNESTY-JOHN, if elected president - or otherwise - will do everything in his power to p*ss on those legal immigrants awaiting for citizenship, and immediately grant full citizenship status to all those that illegally entered our country [with the usual BS that they "learn" English ;) and pay a "fine" ;)].

Don't be fooled by cheap imitators like the Huskster - who will only use your tax dollars for more benefits for illegals, or Rudy "Sanctuary City" Giuliani, who just looks the other way whenever an illegal approaches.

So, if 1. you've always wanted to have to learn spanish, or 2. you really want your town to achieve the coveted "barrio" status, or 3. you enjoy lower wages, or 4. you want all those empty spaces in the local prison filled, or 5. you want to pay even more hospital costs for ANCHOR babies --- THEN AMNESTY-JUAN IS YOUR GRI'NGO!

¡Hurra para la amnistia!

Posted by: ImpeachNOW | January 18, 2008 2:32 PM

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