Don’t miss the update below!
I missed this yesterday while I traveled to Washington DC for the CPAC conference, but John McCain explicitly announced that he would run for President in 2008. One might think that CPAC would have provided a good platform for that event, but instead he chose Late Night with David Letterman:
Setting aside any doubt, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced Wednesday he would seek the presidential nomination.
McCain, who had a presidential exploratory committee, made the declaration on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” taped earlier Wednesday.
“We are going to formally announce it in early April,” John Weaver, a top adviser to McCain, told CNN.
Obviously, Letterman’s show has national reach, but it seems more than a little strange in two ways. First, it reminds people of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s announcement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but with little of the surprise. Did anyone think John McCain was not going to run for President? Secondly, it wasn’t even the formal announcement. McCain’s staff had to explain that the formal announcement — which affects contributor and spending status — will come sometime in April, and which has become even more of an anti-climax.
Conservatives attending CPAC might wonder why McCain has the time to gladhand Letterman while claiming that any of the three days of CPAC won’t fit into his schedule. Considering McCain’s claims to be our true representative in the race, the conservative activists gathered here at the Omni Shoreham hotel might expect him to reprioritize a bit.
CBS sent around a few quips from the broadcast by e-mail to everyone. This one sounds enlightening:
“Well, you may remember that in the last election there was some conversation about me being Vice President of the Untied States, it wasn’t clear which party.”
Hah, hah. He’s a regular laugh riot. I don’t think most of us found it funny in 2004, when he played a little public footsie with John Kerry for a few weeks, before finally coming out and explicitly stating that he would endorse George Bush. And given his support for a liberal approach to immigration reform and campaign finance reform, some might still question which party he hopes to represent in 2008.
UPDATE: Apparently, it isn’t a scheduling problem, either. McCain tried to organize a reception for attendees at the Omni Shoreham duing the conference without engaging with the event’s organizers:
Sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference, which begins today in Washington and brings together thousands of conservative leaders and grass-roots activists, say the Arizona Republican has “dissed” organizers by attempting to schedule a private reception for attendees after rejecting invitations to speak at the event. …
Convening through Saturday at a sold-out Omni Shoreham Hotel, the 34th annual CPAC will feature personal appearances and nationally televised speeches by every Republican presidential hopeful except Mr. McCain, said David A. Keene, chairman of the ACU, which, along with Young America’s Foundation and Human Events, is a principal sponsor of CPAC.
Conservative activists have speculated that Mr. McCain did not want to be seen on television “pandering” to Republican “right-wingers” but wanted to court those same activists at a reception in the same hotel.
“He turned down repeated CPAC offers to speak but then tried to get around us by having his office call the hotel to rent a room for a reception for CPAC attendees — without first seeking approval of CPAC organizers,” said Mr. Lauderback.
So he could make it for the party, but couldn’t be bothered to speak at the conference? Does anyone at Team McCain understand how insulting that is? Their official response says that “The senator has run, been elected and served as a conservative and looks forward to talking about his conservative record throughout the course of this campaign,” but apparently not with the conservatives he supposedly represents.
I’m still betting that someone buys a vowel at the McCain campaign and he winds up on the speaker list. No one can get something this basic this wrong for this long.