At the end of a recent post, I made a point which I want to address in a shorter piece. I concluded PA exit polls reveal weakness of both Dem candidates thusly:
If this fall’s were an election on character and fitness to lead rather than on partisan differences, John McCain would beat either Democratic candidate in a walk. But, party politics does matter, so it could well be a close race this fall.
A March Gallup poll showed him with a 67% favorable rating, well ahead of Mrs. Clinton and five points ahead of Senator Obama–and this before “Bittergate” broke.
To counter the Arizona Senator’s high favorables, some on the left (and even a few in the MSM) repeat their mantra that election of John McCain would amount to a third term for George W. Bush whose current favorables are not even half those of his 2000 GOP rival. (Maybe it’s that their hatred of Bush is so intense they “need” to run against their bÃªte noire.)
Given how often the presumptive GOP nominee bucked his own party–and this president, it’s absurd to even consider that his Administration would be a continuation of current policies (well, except in the broad strategies for defeating Islamofascism). John McCain has been bucking Bush almost since the outset of his Administration and stood for bedrock conservative principles by criticizing excessive federal spending and voting against the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill in 2003. Not to mention his push to change tactics in Iraq–long before “the surge.”
The real challenge for John McCain this fall is to make this race a referendum on him rather than on the current Administration, without alienating a conservative base already skeptical of him. Methinks as the fall election shapes up, voters will focus more on his qualities than his partisan affiliation.
Perhaps, he can best meet this challenge by appointing a Vice-Presidential nominee who appeals to the base without turning off moderates and other independents. My former elementary school assistant soccer coach comes to mind. As does the current governor of a southern state.