I had the pleasure of being in Sen. McCain’s bloggers’ call this morning. Unfortunately I was listening in from my cell phone while waiting for an appointment and just got back so I haven’t been able to post until now, but Patrick Hines sent a roundup:
McCain expects a tough fight in Michigan which is “one of Governor Romney’s home [states].” He is encouraged however by the support he’s picked up from people like Frank Keating, Tom Ridge, and Joe Lieberman. For example, he believes that Ridge, as former head of the Homeland Security bureaucracy, adds credibility to his claim that he doesn’t suupport amnesty, and thus helps deflect Romney’s main line of attack.
On his plan for Michigan, McCain says he’s going in again to get independents and Republicans. He says he does not know what Romney’s message will be, but his will be lower taxes for Michigan and job retraining and education to take care of displaced workers. He says he wants to go to community colleges to meet local needs for jobs. McCain says the present federal policies were established in the fifties and don’t work anymore. McCain also says we need to implement the new CAFE standards because they’ve become law.
In response to my question about the NH exit polling indicating he is the preferred choice as commander in chief and that Romney’s ad were “unfair,” he answered that he did not know if “unfair” was the right term but he was certain that “voters began to tire of negative advertising particularly since he did the same thing in Iowa.” He mentioned that he did one TV response ad quoting local media. He also stressed that the “main reason I’m running is because I have the knowledge and the background necessary to lead this country in two wars and the transcendent struggle[against terrorism].” He reeled off the list of current crisis including Pakistan, Kenya and the Iranian harassment of US naval vessels as evidence of the importance of foreign policy credentials.
Me: What went right in 2000 that you need to have go right again this cycle?
McCain: In 2000, we had some momentum coming out of New Hampshire. The state has a lot of independent-minded voters. There is a strong national defense component there. One of our jobs here is to tell people my record on social issues, because social conservatives are a significant block of the electorate – home schoolers, very conservative voters. I think that also we’ve got enough money to buy a respectable amount of media and gotten the endorsement of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. I think we’re likely to get some others around the state.
And indeed, Michigan is considered one of Romney’s hometowns, but I would note Boston was viewed as his hometown as well.
McCain seemed a bit more buoyant than in recent calls; clearly, he’s energized by pulling out an important win and giving his campaign new life. He’s sticking to his core issues and emphasizing and re-emphasizing them, which strikes me as a sound strategy.
What should the Republican message be? — Trust and confidence, stop the wasteful spending, national security, reduce the federal government, and fix entitlement programs. It’s change — but it’s change back to the principles for which Republicans should stand. The Democrats talk about change but offer no specifics. We need to talk specifically about change.
In any event, on today’s conference call, NRO’s Jim Geraghty asked McCain what kind of person he would consider for VP. While McCain obviously would not make any predictions, he did mention former Senator Phil Gramm — and his economics expertise — as the “kind of person” he would consider. Read into that what you will…
As I see it, one crucial aspect of this campaign is how to bring the 18-35 yr old voters to the polls.
McCain (and any other candidate) has their work cut out for them on that demographic.
There’s also a question of a disenchanted electorate: Siggy posted
The fact remains that most Americans expect the same kind of behavior from their representatives they demand from each other. They expect them to find a way to get along, because neighbors who get along make for a better neighborhood. If the average American behaved like the average Congressperson, we’d be living behind walls and armed to the teeth, our only objective being to ‘get’ or eliminate those who disagree with us, at all costs, truth be damned.
Of all the candidates of either party, Sen. McCain is the only one who has a record of consistently working for what he believes regardless of party politics. He is a man of integrity.