I wrote this article for Helium. Personally, I do not agree with everything that I wrote. I wanted to present a clear way of looking at the race rather than a confusing “on the one hand, on the other hand” post, so I emphasized McCain’s strengths. I have some reservations about him, as do many conservatives. I also have problems with what I have heard about his temper. But I do think that he can effectively package himself before the public and win the Presidency in 2008. And, although I have problems with aspects of his record, particularly on tax cuts and stem cell research, I can picture him governing as a conservative in important areas, particularly fiscal responsibility.
So here is one perspective (within myself, that is):
Who will become President in 2008? There is no way to know for sure. But there is a chance that John McCain will pull it off.
John McCain will most likely be the Republican nominee in 2008. As for the Democrats, the outcome is relatively uncertain, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to go neck to neck.
If McCain goes against Hillary, then McCain can win. Hillary has a bad reputation. Her very name is a lightning rod for controversy. Moderates can look at her and wonder if anything will get done under a Hillary Administration, since she tends to be a divider rather than a uniter. And conservatives can look at her and fear what would happen if what she wanted did get done (e.g., government-run health care, liberal activist judges, etc.). So McCain may be able to pull together moderates and conservatives if Hillary is the Democratic nominee.
If McCain goes against Obama, then he may have more of a struggle, but not one that is completely insurmountable. Obama is likable, intelligent, and articulate. But McCain will have to convince the electorate that more is needed for the Presidency. McCain has years of experience and expertise at the federal level, whereas Obama has only been a Senator for four years. McCain will have to remind voters that a President will need to know what to do once he enters office. The Presidency is not the place for on-the-job training, not in this post 9/11 world, in which so much is at stake. Some see McCain’s age as a detriment, but he should try to communicate to voters that age can actually be an asset, since greater age can often mean more wisdom.
Obama would probably respond that he is a new face, a refreshing alternative to the Washington status quo. McCain should then tell voters that he himself has stood against the Washington status quo on numerous occasions. He co-sponsored McCain-Feingold, which (whatever its deficiencies) was at least a step towards lessening the influence of lobbyists in government. He has also stood by his principles despite the opposition of his own party, so he can distance himself from President Bush’s unpopular policies. He will most likely have some things to explain, such as his involvement with the Keating Five in the 1980s. But, if he can weather that storm, he may be able to disassociate himself from the Washington establishment in the minds of many voters.
To win conservatives, he must continually point to his record. He has been a solid supporter of restraining the growth of government. He opposed earmarks. In a time when even a lot of conservatives are critical of the extravagant government spending under President Bush, McCain can capitalize on his record for fiscal responsibility. He should say that he has acted to restrain government not only in word, but also in deed.
An ability to bring people together, experience, and a record of restraining the growth of government. If McCain can successfully capitalize on these themes, then there is a good chance that he could win the Presidency in 2008.