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Monday, March 10, 2008

John McCain for President

It has now been over a month since Mitt Romney ended his quest for the Republican Presidential nomination, and in the ensuing month leading candidate John McCain has dominated the only remaining contender, Mike Huckabee.

The nomination is McCain’s. He has earned it fair and square, by coming out as the last man standing in a field of tough, determined, experienced, qualified candidates.

During this month we have also seen and heard cries from the conservative wing of the Party, led by its most visible pundits, people such as Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, that McCain is not conservative enough.

In Coulter’s case, she has even stated (I can only hope jokingly, she does have a tremendous sense of humor) that she would support Hillary Clinton over John McCain if it came down to that being our choice.

Well, Ann, it is indeed coming down to that choice. McCain vs. Clinton. Either that, or McCain vs. Obama. So it is getting to be time to let us know whether or not you were kidding.

It is time for the entire Republican Party to come together and begin to support our obvious 2008 Presidential nominee. It is time to say it loud and proud: John McCain for President!

Just as Romney made the announcement that he was ending his campaign, I was preparing an article supporting his candidacy. I was finally ready to get off the fence and declare myself in support of a candidate, and it was going to be Mitt.

I wanted to really get a chance to see what I felt was a great field of candidates take one another on in debates, and listen to their pitch to myself and the rest of America. As that process played itself out, I found myself shuttling back and forth between the impressive group.

Having read Rudy Giuliani’s masterpiece “Leadership”, and having watched his incredible display of that same quality in the wake of 9/11, and knowing the strength and commitment that he would bring to the serious issues of border control and the War on Terror, he was an early favorite in my book. His abortion stance bothered me, but more important to me was trying to size up the voracity of his pledge to nominate originalist SCOTUS judges.

As most Americans, I was extremely impressed with John McCain’s service to America, both in his heroic military sacrifices and his political career. I also found him to be the candidate that most reminded me of Ronald Reagan in style: say what you mean, and mean what you say.

I admit that I did have a concern about McCain’s age. When voting for a President just starting his first term, I would like to think that he can serve out two full terms if need be. Then I remembered how old the Gipper was when he was elected, and this began to alleviate that concern.

I became enamored with Mike Huckabee even before he first began to emerge as a populist “values” conservative to many of those types of voters. Huckabee’s message and style spoke to me in a way that the other leading candidates were not at that early point.

My concern was to the depth of the Arkansas governor's conservative values from a fiscal and security standpoint. Huckabee had an attractive “underdog” quality going for him. He was the little guy from out of nowhere giving the big boys a run for their money.

There was a varied, yet talented, array of “lesser” candidates who were each making good points, and who each had pieces of the puzzle that I was looking for. Duncan Hunter was chief among them, and I was watching to see if his strong security message would catch on with enough of the Party to make him a truly viable candidate. He never got that traction.

Finally, there was Mitt Romney. Son of a former candidate for the nomination, and the strongest family man in the competition. His Mormon faith was never a problem for me. While that church has some idiosyncrasies that I find a little tough to swallow personally, I know that it is basically a Christian faith. Romney quite obviously did not embrace the worst of the church’s past beliefs such as polygamy. This was the most tried and true family man in the pack. He not only talked the family values talk, he walked the walk.

My belief was that eventually the candidates would battle and battle, and then begin to sort it out early this year, particularly on Super Tuesday. I had no idea that it would all sort itself out so quickly, before I could fully form my own opinion and express it publicly. By the time I was ready, Mitt was leaving.

So we’re down to the last man standing, Senator John McCain. And I would put it to the pundits in our corner who have bashed him in the past that it is time to get over it, and get behind the Party’s nominee.

There are many things that today’s Republican Party stands for that are in direct opposition to those things supported by the Democrats. Smaller government, lower taxes, stronger defense and security, originalist jurists, and many other issues both large and small.

It is very clear that the choice in America in 2008 will be between McCain, who stands with us on many of these issues, and either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama of the Democrats, who stand diametrically opposed to us on every one of them.

You can wish that there were an even more conservative candidate available, but the fact is that our Party voters have spoken in convincing numbers: they want John McCain this time around.

Now, it is the job of pundits to be independent, to not simply tow the line and follow like sheep. If pundits have a problem with a candidate they should voice it, that is their responsibility. However, if they are truly the conservatives that they say they are, then a time comes for choosing.

The choice is now between a man who has a strong rating from the American Conservative Union (McCain), and either a Clinton (do you really want four to eight more years of that) or the “Change” envisioned by Obama to a more intrusive nanny state.

The choice of a running mate will be very important for McCain. He needs to find a choice who will more strongly appeal to those conservatives in the Party who form its vital core. Someone who will help get out the vote, who will get us excited about both the present and the future of the Party. Someone with undeniable conservative street cred.

But in any event, for all Republicans, those in the far right conservative wing to those in the more moderate center, there is only one real choice in 2008. That is not the defeatist choice of staying home in protest, or the whining cry-baby choice of bashing our own candidate because we dislike a few of his past positions and attitudes.

The only choice for conservatives, for all Republicans, and the best choice for all Americans in 2008 is John McCain for President of the United States.

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