McCain May Be Back In The Presidential Race
McCain, 71, is showing well now in polls taken both in the national GOP contest, where he is bunched at the top with former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Giuliani. In New Hampshire, McCain too is close to the top, with a chance to get a substantial number of independent primary votes that could put him in the lead, as they did in that early-voting state in the year 2000.
McCain is not as strong in Iowa, where Huckabee has surged to the top of the GOP race, and where the Arizonan's relatively progressive stand on immigration issues may not be very popular.
But still the Iowa caucus result Jan. 3 could help McCain in New Hampshire five days later. A Huckabee victory in Iowa could significantly weaken Romney in New Hampshire and allow McCain to sneak in to the victory. Until recently, Romney had strong leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Iowa Democratic vote could also have significant effect on the disposition of the independent vote in New Hampshire, a state where voters can choose which party to vote for on primary election day.
There has been a good deal of speculation that this very large independent vote could go either to Sen. Barack Obama or McCain. If Obama was to defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, which now appears quite possible, then, the theory goes, he would carry momentum into New Hampshire and win the preponderance of the independent vote. But if Obama were to fall short in Iowa, then the independent vote might well go to McCain.
McCain has recently won the endorsements of both the Manchester Union-Leader, New Hamphire's largest newspaper, and the Boston Globe, which has substantial circulation in New Hampshire. (McCain also won the endorsement of the Des Moines Register in Iowa, and, recently, the backing of independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, possibly an important signal to other independents).
It was the New York Times columnist, David Brooks, who wrote months ago, when it appeared the Iraq war was not going well, and McCain was one of the few senators avidly in favor of the "surge" of new American troops into Iraq ordered by President Bush, that by the time the election rolled around the Iraq issue might look different.
Now, with the war going much better, and the "surge" apparently working, it does look different. It has lost its edge, and, yet, McCain may have gained traction as a man who turns out to have been right on the war, at least in the view of a majority of Republicans.
Also, the rest of the Republican field has not distinguished itself. Romney and Giuliani seem to have fallen, Giuliani because of the Kerik affair and other personal issues, questions are arising about Huckabee now that he has reached the top tier, and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee has not proved to be a very vigorous campaigner.
In these circumstances, with his great name identification, and his undoubted strength of character, McCain is looking better. He has a chance, which he did not appear to have much of just a few weeks ago.
McCain is also being helped by pictures, such as showing the great warrior and former Vietnam prisoner of war, being greeted by other veterans. He is a classic war hero, and that is never a bad thing in the Republican primaries.
Labels: Presidential campaigning