Nothing has surprised me more than the rebound of John McCain’s campaign from near bankruptcy last fall to front-runner status after wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and several states on Super Tuesday.
I have been a McCain supporter since he did some campaign events for Joe Schwarz for Congress in Michigan in 2004, Schwarz having been the chair of McCain’s upset of George Bush in 2000 and also my friend since 1986. Schwarz, McCain and my older son also have the US Navy in common.
The McCain campaign never responded to my snail mail offering to volunteer as needed. Things looked so bleak and under-funded at Team McCain last fall that I scraped the McCain sticker from my car. I was prepared for someone else to win the Republican nomination for President, such as Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani.
It annoys me that conservative pundits talk about McCain as if he is not a conservative Republican, with a lifetime rating of 82.3 from the American Conservative Union and a recent rating of 88 percent from the National Taxpayers Union. They tend to focus on the 10 percent of items with which they disagree with him instead of the 90 percent where they do agree. They talk about him wanting to close Camp Gitmo or end waterboarding as if he had never been a prisoner of war and never undergone torture.
Despite endorsements by major political figures and newspapers, I think it is not true that McCain is the choice of liberals, party insiders or big government conservatives. He is still refreshingly insurgent and able to reach across the aisle to work with the other party, unlike the current President or the two surviving Democratic candidates for President.
Mike Huckabee’s contribution to this race is both the quip that he wants to be the guy with whom you work, not the guy that laid you off, and siphoning off enough value voter support that Romney might have otherwise won.
It would not surprise me if Mike Huckabee becomes the Vice Presidential nominee. He is not a political hitman in the style of Dick Cheney and his value to the ticket would be to attract value voters who felt taken for granted by Bush/Cheney.
Can John McCain raise enough to be competitive with the Democratic nominee? He probably can.