February 19, 2007

Making Their Runs To The Right

John McCain and Mitt Romney spent their weekends jogging -- to the right. McCain made his clearest statement yet on abortion, and Romney backpedaled from his previous stand on allowing gays to openly serve in the military. Both men appear to understand that the primaries will require significant support from social conservatives in the GOP, a group both men have eschewed at times during their careers.

McCain's statement will probably end his reputation as a Republican maverick:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."

Later, he appeared at an abstinence rally, talking to teenagers about making the right choices in life. McCain told them that he had made poor choices in the past, although it wasn't clear whether he meant the Gang of 14 or not. McCain led the Senate caucus that effectively took the power of judicial nominations out of George Bush's hands when Bush nominated the kind of judges that McCain now endorses. As a result, a few strict constructionists like Henry Saad got thrown under the bus by McCain and his Gang.

Will McCain now endorse Brett Cavanaugh and William Haynes? Will he renominate Henry Saad? It seems that the moment may have passed for a McCain endorsement of strict constructionists.

McCain received an important endorsement from Frank Keating, however. The former Oklahoma governor has been considered a conservative stalwart and had been thinking about a presidential run of his own. He also picked up Phil Gramm as a supporter, another conservative heavyweight. Keating called McCain a "true-blue Ronald Reagan conservative," a description that some may greet with incredudility, considering the BCRA.

Romney, meanwhile, did a little reverse jogging of his own. On record as supporting gays to serve openly in the military, Romney declared yesterday that the timing makes all the difference. Appearing on ABC's This Week, he said that a change should not come in the middle of a conflict:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R), who once advocated allowing gays to serve openly in the military, said yesterday that he does not think the Pentagon should change its "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the midst of the Iraq war.

" 'Don't ask, don't tell' has worked well. We're in the middle of a conflict. Now is not the time for a change in that regard, and I don't have a policy posture as to allowing gays in the military to serve there openly," Romney, a presidential candidate, said on ABC's "This Week."

That seems rather convenient. We're likely to remain in a conflict with radical Islamist terrorists for years, which means that he won't have to address his previous position even if elected for two terms. Instead -- and this is really rich -- he now runs to the right by endorsing a Bill Clinton policy meant to transition to a more liberal standard. At the same time, he says he opposes discrimination of gays and lesbians. If that doesn't make heads spin, I'm not sure what will.

Romney also confirmed his support of the surge in Iraq as "the right thing to do". He has supported the surge since its pre-announcement debate; this just answers the foolishness in Congress last week. Romney also insisted that he now takes a pro-life stand on abortion despite running as a pro-choice candidate in 1994. In this, he relies on federalism, claiming that abortion should be left to state legislators and not to Congress or the courts. However, he also supports a federal Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, which seems a little inconsistent for a federalist.

This is what's wrong with a long primary campaign. It doesn't give us any better look at the candidates, and it puts far too much pressure on them to be all things to all people. In this environment, a man like Rudy Giuliani will do better just by remaining in one spot and not trying to be a chameleon for all of the different factions of the GOP. It also leaves open the possibility that Republicans will find everyone so tiresome at the end of a year of campaigning that it will look outside the current group when the primaries actually begin.

Someone, say, like Newt Gingrich?


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» Senator McCain expresses belief that Roe v. Wade should be overturned from Sister Toldjah
Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain created waves this past weekend with a statement he made to a South Carolina crowd of about 800 that he believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Via AP: SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Republican presidential ... [Read More]

» McCain, Romney run right from Wizbang Politics
Two of the major contenders for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination spent the weekend burnishing their conservative credentials. Romney reversed his old position on allowing gays to serve openly in... [Read More]