The McCain bill of rights, as Andy calls it, probably won’t have any lasting effect on his presidential ambitions one way or another, although it will exacerbate somewhat conservative suspicions that were already there.
The only real downside risk is if–God forbid–there’s an attack on the U.S. sometime in the next two years when it might have been stopped with more intelligence from detainees. Then obviously all of this will be cast in an entirely different light and would be a liability for McCain.
If Mitt Romney is smart, he will do something to gently distance himself from the McCain amendment, since he doesn’t have to vote on it and isn’t caught up in the congressional stampede. Something like: “I abhor torture and don’t think the U.S. should ever do it, but there are legitimate concerns that this legislation might go too far and tie the hands of interrogators in trying to get intelligence from very dangerous people. I hope that isn’t the case, but I worry about it.”
Something like that. Just to put down a marker…