Mitt Romney scored a major conservative endorsement from Sean Hannity earlier today, The radio and television commentator, whose shows reach millions, stated that he would vote for Romney as the race settles down to the former Massachusetts governor and Senator John McCain. Listen to the brief audio from his radio broadcast earlier today:
Over the next few days, we will see sides get chosen amongst high-profile Republicans as the primary moves through its inevitable binary stage. McCain has Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Romney has Hannity. Which can deliver more Republicans and more conservatives? Arnold will have a big impact on California, but Hannity will have a more national impact. Whether either of them can convince people who are either inclined to vote for the other candidate to switch, or whether they’re singing to their repective choirs, remains to be seen.
Most of the appeals will come on a more personal basis. Friends and family who get passionate about a candidate will have an impact — and I have an example. My mother decided to attend a Romney rally in Orange County, California today, and managed to get her picture taken with the candidate. Here’s her account of the event:
This was held in a warehouse for a furniture store and it was packed full of Romney backers and overflowed to the outside. I believe there was a crowd of at least three hundred to four hundred people, maybe more. They all were very enthusiastic even before Romney made his appearance but once he was in and speaking, the crowd cheered at every sentence and went along in answering unison.
I was struck by Romney’s ability to look at each person with whom he shook hands. He did not offer his hand to one person while turning and talk to another. His focus was on one person at a time. He was gracious with all, and I came away feeling better about him because I was a Fred Thompson backer and wasn’t sure if I could be a Romney backer.
What makes this an especially odd but a surprising candidate for me is Judie, my sister who is several years younger, have never backed the same candidate before. But there we were together, cheering Romney on for very different reasons. We both want Romney to win and want to stop McCain from getting the nomination. It was a very uplifting experience for both us.
Over the last few days, John McCain has taken some hits on remarks he made last year about judicial nominations, specifically that he might not have chosen to nominate Samuel Alito for his overt conservatism. While this got overblown — McCain supported Alito and said he’d have nominated John Roberts — conservatives wondered whether McCain would fight for conservative jurists or sacrifice constructionists for comity with the Senate. Now, McCain may have an answer for the question:
Ted Olson, fomer U.S. Solicitor General and conservative legal icon, has just informed me that he is endorsing John McCain.
The assurance conservatives take from this endorsement will depend on the level of involvement Olson takes with McCain’s effort. When Rudy Giuliani needed to convince conservatives that his pro-choice politics would not impact his determination to appoint constructionists to the bench, he turned to his old friend and conservative stalwart Ted Olson to lead his judiciary advisory panel. It mostly calmed nerves on the Right, as most realized that Olson would bring conservative credibility and strength.
As it turns out, Rudy never got close enough to the nomination for the reassurance to have any practical value. If Olson joins McCain’s staff in a similar position, will that make it easier for conservative voters to at least have confidence in a McCain administration’s efforts to appoint constructionists? After all, McCain has a long track record as a pro-life politician, unlike Rudy.
It will be interesting to see whether this makes any difference, and how McCain puts Olson to use in the campaign. I’d bet we’ll see Olson at CPAC.
Blogging from the road as the First Mate has a regularly-scheduled visit to the doctor today for some orthopedic evaluation. I’ve been catching up on e-mail while we wait (and wait and wait and wait), and I’m seeing hints of a really dumb and certainly slanderous attack on John McCain. People know that I support Mitt Romney and have policy disagreements with Senator McCain, but that’s all they are — and this is particularly vicious.
The rumor mill tells e-mail recipients that McCain lost four or five airplanes as a naval aviator. One incident, though, doesn’t even involve McCain except as a victim of someone else’s error, and the rest of them don’t provide any context at all.
Why is this important? Are we electing an Aviator in Chief or a President? I’d like to remind people of a few truths:
1. McCain put his life on the line as a combat pilot every time he climbed into one of these planes.
2. Losing planes in combat, especially in that period of time, wasn’t exactly an unknown event in the military.
3. If I’d had one plane go down, I’d have become a naval train conductor instead of an aviator. Getting into another one after that sounds pretty frickin’ impressive.
4. Even if one could assume that McCain was a less-than-stellar pilot, which I don’t, so what? How does that disqualify him from being a good President?
Whoever’s flacking this needs to stop. It’s a smear and an irrelevancy, even if it were true, and it’s almost certainly not. No professional campaign would be stupid enough to float this effluvium. Let’s respond vigorously and reject this smear of a man who served his country honorably under extraordinarily bad conditions.
UPDATE: I see John Derbyshire at The Corner gave this a little push. Maybe he should just pull it back with some apologies and a little gratitude for McCain’s service. Just a suggestion.
National Journal annually ranks Senators and Representatives for their liberal and conservative track records for the previous year. The non-partisan publication’s credibility allows these rankings to carry considerable weight. This year, their choice may land them in the middle of a presidential election:
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was the most liberal senator in 2007, according to National Journal’s 27th annual vote ratings. The insurgent presidential candidate shifted further to the left last year in the run-up to the primaries, after ranking as the 16th- and 10th-most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the other front-runner in the Democratic presidential race, also shifted to the left last year. She ranked as the 16th-most-liberal senator in the 2007 ratings, a computer-assisted analysis that used 99 key Senate votes, selected by NJ reporters and editors, to place every senator on a liberal-to-conservative scale in each of three issue categories. In 2006, Clinton was the 32nd-most-liberal senator.
In their yearlong race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama and Clinton have had strikingly similar voting records. Of the 267 measures on which both senators cast votes in 2007, the two differed on only 10. “The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,” said Richard Lau, a Rutgers University political scientist.
This supports what I noted when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama last week. The endorsement revealed the direction of Obama’s practical politics rather than his high-minded (and apparently sincere) efforts to debate them in a friendly, collegial manner. Kennedy backed Obama because Obama’s voting record reveals the junior Senator from Illinois to be the same kind of hard-Left policymaker that Kennedy has been for most of his career.
The drift of both candidates to the Left also seems significant. As the presidential race has drawn closer, both Obama and Clinton have tried to bolster their liberal credentials. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why. Most of the energy — and money — in Democratic politics now comes from groups like MoveOn and ANSWER, which has demanded a leftward turn in politics from party leaders. Hillary started off attempting to move to the center, but as time wore on and the wind shifted, so did she.
John McCain did not make enough votes to get a rating in 2007, spending a great deal of time campaigning for the presidency. His lifetime NJ composite rating is a 71.8 conservative score, not bad but not exactly leading-edge. Chuck Hagel got a 71.5 and Sam Brownback an 81, for comparison. However, the last several years shows a much lower rating than the lifetime score:
2006 – 56.7
2005 – 59.2
2004 – 51.7
Those numbers will not give conservatives much hope if McCain wins the nomination.
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The BBC reports that “senior Western counterterrorism officials” claim that the missile fired at a safe house in Pakistan two days ago killed Abu Laith al-Libi. Libi has “fallen as a martyr”, according to an Islamist website:
US intelligence agencies have been investigating reports that a top al-Qaeda figure was killed in the Afghan-Pakistan border area this week.
It follows a missile attack in Pakistan’s North Waziristan area in which 12 militants were reported killed.
While Western counter-terrorism officials told the BBC they believed Libi to be dead, they would not discuss how he was killed.
Some in American circles put the Libyan as #3 in al-Qaeda. He has appeared in AQ videos and internet communications, and in 2002 confirmed that Osama bin Laden had escaped Tora Bora. Abu Laith served as a field commander for AQ as well, crossing the border into Afghanistan to support the Taliban in their insurgent actions.
Seven months ago, the US tried killing al-Libi but hit a school instead. The incident caused a tremendous row with Afghanistan, and had many in the US questioning the conduct of the war there against the Taliban. The US had thought that al-Libi was worth the risk in collateral casualties, but it cost the government of Hamid Karzai support at the time and potentially weakened Kabul against the Taliban.
If they have killed al-Libi, it is a tremendous victory against AQ. It isn’t the end of the war by any means, but it will send their networks into disarray, potentially stalling other attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere and exposing more targets as the network attempts to recover. (via CapQ reader Bob Estes)
In the aftermath of last night’s debate, NBC reported that the Mitt Romney campaign would not buy ads in the upcoming Super Tuesday states. Many of us puzzled over that news, and this morning all references to it seemingly disappeared. A report from the AP may explain why:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to run a “significant” level of television ads in California and other states that vote Tuesday in essentially a national primary, aides said Thursday, signaling a willingness to aggressively try to derail Republican front-runner John McCain.
Since his defeat in Florida Tuesday, the former Massachusetts governor has been debating over just how much of an effort to make in which of the 21 states that hold primaries and caucuses Tuesday. Romney has tried to cast himself as more conservative than McCain.
It made no sense for Romney to pull back now. He has one serious advantage this week in organizational strength. Because 21 states all go to the polls on Tuesday, none of the candidates can campaign effectively in all of them. Therefore, the candidate who has the money and the infrastructure to run coordinated advertising in these states can essentially make up the lost face time in a way the others cannot.
Will it be enough? It’s hard to say, but not doing it at all would have been tantamount to a withdrawal. Romney has to use his organizational advantage to blunt John McCain’s momentum coming off his Florida primary victory. The advantage here will not exist after February 5th, either. After that, the pace drops back to a leisurely stroll through America, and McCain can simply match Romney’s travel schedule to eliminate the cash and organizational advantage.
Last night’s report quoted “sources within the campaign.” The question today would be — which campaign? Romney’s, or someone else’s?
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Mexico’s ambassador in Berlin has launched a protest over what it perceives as a finger in the eye from a German novelty-song performer — or perhaps a poke somewhere further south. Mickey Krause, who has such timeless masterpieces as “Go Home You Old S**t” and “10 Naked Hairdressers” in his repertoire, recently hit the charts with another classy entry in his natural oeuvre:
A German song that is riding high in the country’s charts has ruffled diplomatic feathers as a result of its mixing of geographic and scatological issues. But the singer of “Finger in the Butt, Mexico” is unrepentant.
Mexico’s ambassador to Germany has voiced his displeasure over a popular German song that allegedly disparages the North American country.
The song, which has been on the German charts for 10 weeks, features as its chorus the charming refrain “Finger in the butt, Mexico.” (The German version, “Finger im Po, Mexiko,” rhymes.)
Germany’s mass-circulation daily Bild reported Thursday that Ambassador Jorge Castro-Valle Kuehne has written a letter of complaint to EMI, the record company which publishes the song.
I’m just guessing here, but I don’t see this replacing the Macarena at sporting events. It sounds like one of those silly, nonsense songs that strings together a hook and some cheap rhyming chants and manages to hit at just the right moment to capture attention. Ambassador Kuehne should get a grip and ignore it. Otherwise, he may wind up promoting the record for Krause and really turning it into a classic.
Really — how many people remember “Shadduppa You Face”? Or “Rock Me Amadeus”?
And it could have been worse. Krause includes a version in his live performance about Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I won’t tell you where Krause wants the finger going in that verse.
Reports yesterday stated that the US launched a missile strike against a “high-value” terrorist target in Pakistan on Tuesday, but had not confirmed any success. Today, Reuters reports that secondary data indicates the missile hit a safe house of foreign fighters, but no confirmation has been issued as to whether the intended target got hit:
A suspected U.S. missile strike that killed up to 13 foreign militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region this week had targeted second or third tier al Qaeda leaders, according to residents in the tribal area. …
Intelligence officials said the area is controlled by Islamist militants and too dangerous for security forces to go. After the attack, militants surrounded the area and barred anyone from going near the house.
Ahmed Aziz, a 70-year-old resident, told Reuters that the militants also stopped villagers from attending the funerals, which was a sign that those killed were all foreigners.
“When local people die, they don’t stop anyone from attending their funerals,” Aziz said.
Sources now say that the targets were Abu Laith al Libi and Obaidah al Masri and/or their deputies. Intelligence services apparently tracked their movements and expected them to be in the house. Since security forces apparently cannot go to the site, they cannot confirm their deaths. However, the fact that terrorist forces sealed off the area and prevented locals from attending the funerals indicate not just that the dead were foreign fighters, but perhaps that they had more import than just hired muscle.
Intel will have to glean the identities of the dead through intercepts. The attack serves notice on the terrorists holed up in Waziristan and elsewhere in Pakistan that the US can reach across the border at will and make our presence felt in deadly ways. That will have the Taliban and AQ rethinking security plans, which may give us even more opportunities.
For those who had hoped to hear that Osama had gone to his 72 virgins, this news may not be terribly interesting. The war on terror, though, will get won through many actions such as this.