Politics & Policy

Norton ‘Doubles Down’ on Afghanistan with McCain Visit

In her introductory remarks to Sen. John McCain’s stump visit on her behalf, Jane Norton sought to put critical foreign-policy distance between her and Ken Buck, and also rhetorical distance between herself and her potential future colleague and friend:

Listen to Ken’s own words: “I think if the terrorists do any sort of cost benefit analysis about attacking America, I think we’ve done a formidable job in terms of what we’ve done in Afghanistan.”

Cost benefit analysis? Come on.

Ken Buck is naïve. Terrorists aren’t taught the tools of cost benefit analysis in terrorist training camps, they are taught to hate, to kill, and to maim. The terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 didn’t do a cost benefit analysis, and neither did the Shoe Bomber or the Christmas Bomber.

Fellow Coloradans, elections are about a choice, and in this critical election, I believe Republicans should stand proudly as the party of a strong national defense, of a strong America committed to defending our interests, an America committed to winning the war in Afghanistan, an America that carries the foreign policy flag of Ronald Reagan and John McCain, both of whom taught us that true peace can only be realized through strength.

As your Senator, that’s exactly what I will do.

That is why it is an honor to be with Senator McCain here. Senator, you and I won’t agree on a fair amount of issues, and no you can’t have our water, but you can count on me standing with you and General Petraeus when it comes to winning the war in Afghanistan — and the broader war on terrorism. [emphasis added]

Norton has dubbed McCain “the foreign policy conscience of America,” while detractors have cited McCain’s last-minute appearance as part of her establishment credentials, noting that recent negative flyers against Buck were financed by McCain-linked “Grow Our Party” PAC. The group’s founders denied any involvement with the Arizona Senator.

Norton has relied on strong foreign-policy chops–including her criticisms of President Barack Obama–highlighted in a June ad called “Win the War on Terror”:

Even Norton’s supporters were left scratching their heads at the potential impact–including negatives–that might follow from a McCain appearance. Many Republicans cite McCain’s stance on campaign finance and immigration as areas of particular concern, wondering aloud if Norton would be more sympathetic to his views as payback for his support. Michelle Malkin dubbed the phenomenon “McCain Regression Syndrome”:

In Colorado, McCain and his meddlers infuriated the state party by anointing former lieutenant governor Jane Norton to challenge endangered Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet. She’s a milquetoast public official who has served on a lot of task forces and GOP clubs — and who happens to be the sister-in-law of big Beltway insider Charlie Black. An estimated 40 percent of her coffers are filled with out-of-state money (and much of that is flowing from the Beltway).

The mini-McCain of Colorado claims to oppose “special interests,” but has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from D.C. lobbyists at McCain’s behest — stifling the candidacy of strong conservative rivals led by grass-roots-supported Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, an amnesty opponent whose aggressive illegal immigration prosecutions have earned him the rage of the far Left and big business Right.

The 9NEWS/Survey USA poll that put the GOP primary at 50-41 in favor of Buck found that an overwhelming majority of voters found “jobs and economy” the single most important issue, with 58 percent. The War in Afghanistan was tied for 5th, with just 4 percent.

Colorado blogger Ross Kaminsky–who has endorsed Norton in the primary–sought out an explanation from Norton’s campaign manager, Josh Penry:

So here’s the strategy.

1 – John McCain’s approval rating in Colorado is meteoric. 69 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable, among GOP primary voters.

2 – The 22 percent who dislike John McCain almost universally agree with McCain and Norton on the war — and thus disagree with the Surrender Monkey wing of the Ron Paul movement that Buck has shown sympathies to. [emphasis added]

3 – There are about 500,000 live ballots out there right now, many of them have never voted in a primary, but 90 percent of them voted for John McCain. The numbers are conclusive: If you want to enlarge the universe, and we do, McCain can help do it to a greater extent than anyone else. So when Team Buck attacks McCain all week, it’ll feel good. But 69 percent of GOP primary voters will disagree, and lots of voters who don’t usually vote in primaries will have one more reason to pay attention — and vote Jane.

It seems audacious, but the numbers say it’s really not and we’re on offense until the end.

Buck responded to McCain’s appearance on behalf of Norton, saying his opponent was focused more on the “Washington establishment” than Colorado’s grassroots voters.

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