John McCain has clinched the Republican presidential nomination. He will be a tough opponent for the Democrats because he is a moderate on issues such as the environment, immigration, and abortion. This is why it will not be easy to portray him as George Bush.
Tonight, 71 year old Senator John McCain has clinched the Republican presidential nomination. With delegates from Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island, he now has more than enough votes for the nomination at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota in early September.
It is an historic moment for the Senator from Arizona. In August 2007, his campaign appeared to be finished. First, his campaign contributors abandoned him, and then his closest advisors left. Without any help, he dragged himself out of the morass into which the expenses of a bloated campaign organization had driven him. Eight years earlier, he lost to George Bush in a sometimes very dirty primary campaign. On Wednesday, he visited the White House and accepted its congratulations and support.
Supporters of the Democrats considered the official endorsement by Bush to be the best campaign gift possible for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Whether that is true remains to be seen. Bush is still well liked by the Republican base, and that is why Bush’s handshake will help prevent ugly attacks by the right wing. That’s the point for McCain, who is more liberal on domestic policy. For Bush, this allows him to protect himself in many matters such as the Middle East talks with the hint of possible continuity.
Last night’s numbers show that conservatives are beginning to go along with McCain anyway. Opponents of McCain like archconservative columnist Ann Coulter, who calls for the election of Hillary Clinton as “the more conservative of the two,” will gradually have a more difficult time making their case. The Republicans want to win in November.
A Tough Campaign is in Store for the Democrats
What they don’t want in the end, because they have been fighting it for 40 years with enormously important federal judges at all levels, is to have to restrain the influence of liberals and leftists in American judicial matters. The symbol of this is the majority on the US Supreme Court. Soon there will be three or four vacancies arising from age or health reasons which will have to be filled. Conservatives are thankful to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush for having built a Republican majority on the Supreme Court, despite one confirmed justice who turned out to be a liberal. It was a long hard battle. The conservatives look at McCain, Obama, and Clinton, and they know that if the Democrats win, their battle would have been in vain. Then, Obama or Clinton would cement a liberal majority in the Supreme Court for the next 30 years. With John McCain, it’s true they won’t get any legally conservative judges, but at least he’s saving them from the liberals.
The Clinton or Obama campaign against McCain will therefore not be a sure thing. The current euphoria is deceptive. The Republicans watched their money and waited to see who their candidate would be, but now it’s clear. McCain is one of the most moderate Republicans on the same issues that Democrats would like to use to attract non-voters and independents to themselves. The environment, immigration, banning torture, and abortion rights rank among these issues. The Democrats will not find it easy here to portray McCain as George Bush.