Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No Surge for John McCain

As readers here may recall, I've firmly backed John McCain's presidential campaign from the beginning, largely because of his unimpeachable stance on Iraq (for example, see my earlier post, "McCain Deserves a Second Look"):

One of the hopes for the McCain campaign was that as the situation on the ground in Iraq improved, so would McCain's electoral fortunes. But as today's Los Angeles Times reports, the Arizona Senator's not getting a surge in public backing:

Finally, nearly five years into the Iraq war, John McCain sees vindication at hand.

More than any other candidate for president, McCain has tied his fortunes to support for sending more U.S. troops into the unpopular war. Now that violence in Iraq has waned after a troop buildup, McCain wants some credit.

And so the Republican senator from Arizona, once a prisoner of war in Vietnam, came this week to South Carolina, an early-voting state that is home to many veterans, and proclaimed he was right all along.

"I knew what needed to be done, and now we're doing it," he told uniformed veterans and others packed into Hudson's Smokehouse in Lexington for a barbecue dinner.

Just back from a Thanksgiving weekend visit to Iraq, McCain told stories of restaurants newly opened, soccer games, a decline in bombings, fewer bodies found dumped overnight, and "a dramatic shift in the attitude of the Iraqi people."

"We are winning in Iraq, and that's a fact," he said.

Yet it is far from clear that GOP voters are ready to reward McCain. He might have been right about the need for a troop buildup, said Karin Hollack, a Republican college student from Des Moines. But, she said, that does not make him any less "off-putting."

"I don't really like him," said Hollack, 27.
I think those sentiments really capture a lot of McCain's difficulties. His maverick history has alienated the conservative base - exactly the type of people who're essential to winning the primaries.

One of my blogging buddies, Dee over at
Conservatism With Heart, has been giving me a hard time about McCain. Check out her post handicapping the GOP primary race.

Also, don't miss my recent posts on the future of conservatism,
here and here.

And remember, the CNN YouTube Republican debate's on tonight. You might get a kick out
this Wired article on the editorial process of selecting the best YouTube questions for the debate. CNN's producers don't go with the most popular:
"If you would have taken the most-viewed questions last time, the top question would have been whether Arnold Schwarzenegger was a cyborg sent to save the planet Earth," says Bohrman, the debate's executive producer. "The second-most-viewed video question was: Will you a convene a national meeting on UFOs?"
Ron Paul backers must have dominated the video submission process!