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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, February 15, 2008


Which way will McCain swing?

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, February 15, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
I've been arguing that McCain is probably going to pick Fred Thompson as his running mate, mainly because I've bought into the conventional wisdom that he needs to pick a conservative to solidify the base and encourage turnout. However there is an alternate theory out there that no matter what McCain does, he will never placate the core conservatives. So, the argument goes, McCain will pick a liberal veep to try and compete for the independents against Obama:

Barack Obama has become his party's front-runner because he has expanded the Democratic Party. His big rallies draw crowds of nearly 20,000, unheard of for a primary campaign.

In 2004, President Bush beat John Kerry by expanding the GOP base in conservative areas.

This is a strategy that simply won't work for McCain because there is a certain bloc of core, loyal and principled conservatives who will never vote for him no matter what he says now, who he picks to run with, or who the Democratic nominee might be.

Those conservatives will never forgive him for the immigration bill he wrote with Ted Kennedy and for opposing Bush's tax cuts.

Bush's 2004 strategy was enough to edge out a boring stiff like Kerry, but it would hardly match the mania for Obama.

So, McCain's only option is to run hard for the middle and hope that his centrist ticket can beat the soaring rhetoric and high promises of a likeable guy like Obama with little experience and a liberal voting record.

The irony of this would be that the conservative anitpathy towards McCain (which by and large is quite remarkable given that George W. Bush has been just as liberal as the Senator has, but gets a free pass from the same angry conservative factions) actually diminished their influence over the Republican nomination rather than enhanced it. McCain giving up on conservatives would be sweet turnaround indeed.

The problem with this is that it assumes that Obama will be the nominee, even though the reality is that unless Obama beats Hillary soundly in Ohio and Texas, the outcome of the Democratic nomination will probably be determined by how the superdelegates swing and by how the Florida and Michigan issues are resolved.

Conservatives, particular the social/evangelical/values voters, do have their "dissent" option of voting for Huckabee in the primary. Huckabee can't win the nomination but he might be able to deny McCain an easy coronation. That could assuage them somewhat to allow them to support McCain in the general against (from their perspective) the greater of two evils. The recent Romney endorsement of McCain might also make McCain more palatable. It should also be noted that Republicans are closing ranks around McCain, even at highly anti-McCain venues like RedState.

Then again, McCain does fancy himself a maverick. Who knows?

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I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be an issue.

Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( ) live earth is also asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw a poll on that says people care a lot about what their next leader thinks of global warming. Does anyone know of another poll or other results about this subject?

Here is the page where I saw the EarthLab poll: This is a pretty legit website; they are endorsed by Al Gore and the alliance for climate protection and they have a carbon footprint calculator. Does anyone have a strong opinion about this like I do? No matter what your political affiliation is or who you vote for this is an important issue for our environment, our economy and for homeland security.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.