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December 12, 2007

McCain For Veep?

Michael Medved makes a good case for it.

He conforms perfectly to all four rules – he’s a well-known, nationally respected figure, hardly a fresh face; he’s a septuagenarian candidate who won’t be plotting his own future races; he’s a Washington insider (and easily the most influential single Senator of the last twenty years) who certainly qualifies as a hard-wired insider; he’s run for president twice, maintaining his dignity and integrity on both occasions; and his selection hardly qualifies as a “stunt” choice meant to grab votes in some sub-group (Episcopalian war-heroes hardly count as a contested voting block).

Some may object to the idea of McCain as a running mate because his record (particularly on campaign finance reform and immigration) won’t match the position of the nominee. Aside from the fact that he’s changed emphasis on the issues (he scarcely speaks about campaign financing and now insists on “border security first” regarding immigration reform) history shows that issues disagreements never hurt a ticket. No one looks closely at a Veep candidate’s position papers because it’s obvious that he won’t be shaping policy. Kennedy and Johnson, Reagan and Bush, Gore and Lieberman all disagreed on crucial issues, but media and voters ultimately ignored those disputes – especially after the Vice Presidential candidate inevitably (and appropriately) signified that he would follow the President’s lead.

Given the non-existent foreign policy and defense experience of the three front-runners (Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani) a McCain choice would be particularly necessary – sorry, Rudy, serving as New York City Mayor and responding to local destruction doesn’t truly amount to leadership on foreign affairs (however admirable it might be). Moreover, McCain’s home state, Arizona (where he remains hugely popular), will be a major battleground in ’08 – Democrats know that no Republican can win without it. McCain’s continuing popularity and credibility in the Hispanic community might also reduce the hemorrhaging of GOP Latino support due to strident anti-immigrant posturing by all major candidates. Moreover, on the abortion issue that inspires and engages so many Republicans, McCain’s unwavering pro-life record would help to solidify the candidacy of either Romney or Rudy if they selected him for the ticket.

I’ve said in the past that I have serious problems with McCain because of both his immigration record and, especially, his record on freedom of speech. I’ve even said I would not vote for him. But this would be the single exception – McCain as the vice presidential candidate. Not necessarily my first choice, but certainly a reasonable one.





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