The Washington Post today has a story about how John McCain is courting Bush loyalists.
Before I get into this, let me assure you, I am not caught up in any national McCain "outsider hype." I fully realize the current polls (which perpetually show McCain to be training only Rudy), mean very little. The election is too far out, and besides, winning state-by-state Republican primary elections are a different game than winning a nationwide "popularity contest."
On the other hand, I want to be careful not to get caught up in the "Republican Party insider-DC" hype, either (this is the opposite of the first type, by the way). This type of hype says McCain doesn’t have a shot because VA Senator George Allen (who is currently garnering about 1 percent in the polls) will win the primary.
This past weekend, I was in Kansas City on business. It’s always good to get out of DC for some perspective, and this trip provided some much-needed insight. The folks I talked to didn’t even know who George Allen is. This was the same experience I encountered two weeks ago in Shepherdstown, WV, where the gentleman I talked to only knew of George Allen the football coach.
Again, I know it’s early, but these were people who followed politics a bit, so I think it is somewhat telling. Of course, name ID isn’t everything; few Democrats knew who Bill Clinton was in early 1991.
Back to the article: I don’t know if John McCain can win the Republican nomination. Clearly, conservatives do better in Republican primary elections, and McCain, try though he might, has burned too many bridges to ever be the preferred candidate of the conservative movement. But, the article is indicative of the fact that McCain is campaigning hard. McCain clearly has some big things going for him.
Every possible external factor, from Abramoff to terrorism, currently favors him. He is already running a smart and tough campaign. Unlike some candidates who are still "testing the waters," McCain has a campaign staff and has been running hard for months. He has assiduously courted conservative leaders, which may at least neutralize some them. He is seeking out the most talented political operatives, and courting them. Unlike some other candidates, he does not have an election of consequence between now and ’08.
If recent history is the predictor, McCain won’t win in ’08. But every once in a while there is a paradigm shift in politics, and that is precisely what McCain is positioning for.