The Corner

Yeah, Me, Neither

The ending paragraph of today’s Wall Street Journal piece on the major GOP candidates and economic conservatives kinda says it all about one of the largest obstacles to the John McCain campaign (sorry, Ramesh):

… McCain continues to battle conservative economic groups. He has blamed the Republicans’ loss of the Senate in 2006 on the Club for Growth, saying it unfairly targeted former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. “I’m not sure what the Club for Growth and I have, really, in common,” he said in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network. The Club for Growth responded with an Internet ad saying it wasn’t sure, either.

McCain’s base of support within the primary electorate just seems too cramped to allow for success. Social conservatives may share issue positions with him, but his obvious disdain for them coupled with McCain-Feingold make the relationship inescapably frosty. He’s picked yet another fight with economic conservatives, for whom spending restraint is a necessary but insufficient condition. Hawks will appreciate McCain’s steadfast support of warfighting in the Iraq theater but may want to choose a standard-bearer with less of an identification with the Bush policy (irony abounds) and more of a chance of convincing skeptical independents (and Republicans, at this point) to persevere. And leadership conservatives typically prefer former executives with proven experience to lead governments or organizations.

There is no shame in serving the country as an important and iconoclastic senator — particularly one from Arizona. It would be a shame to mount two major presidential campaigns and lose both.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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