Saturday, February 17, 2007

McCain Watch - 9

This story in The Nation provides some fascinating insight into the "real" John McCain and his relationship with his "base".
Just as the presidential nomination process begins in earnest, Senator John McCain has suffered a stinging defeat in his home state. [...] This defeat was the handiwork of his presumed actual political base--a ragtag band of local conservative activists led by a 65-year-old retired IBM middle manager named Rob Haney. Who is Rob Haney? He is the Republican state committeeman in Arizona's District 11, McCain's home district. In the past, Haney and his fellow committee members would meet from time to time to review their annual budget, vote on bylaws and pass resolutions. If anyone represents Arizona's Republican Party, advancing the causes of faith, family and freedom, it is the folks from District 11. Yet their importance, let alone their existence, seemed to matter little to their state's famous and ambitious senior senator.

All that changed when Haney organized a revolt that hardly needed encouragement. "People would be calling in to [state committee] headquarters every week, absolutely enraged, threatening to leave the party because of some comments McCain made," Haney told me. "The guy has no core, his only principle is winning the presidency. He likes to call his campaign the 'straight talk express.' Well, down here we call it the 'forked tongue express.'"

Rank-and-file Republicans are disgruntled about McCain's support for campaign finance reform and gun control and his opposition to a federal ban on gay marriage. Conservative anger reached a boiling point in 2004 when McCain led the opposition to Prop 200, a state ballot measure restricting public services for undocumented immigrants.


Not content to let the purely symbolic resolution stand, McCain recruited a slate of candidates to oust Haney and his allies in last November's state committee elections. McCain supporters formed a political action committee, Grassroots Arizona PAC, to bankroll this effort. Forty percent of Grassroots Arizona's funds were provided by two Democratic donors from San Francisco apparently enraptured with McCain and his "maverick" image, Gregory and Lisa Wendt, which added fuel to the flames of Haney's revolt. McCain's slate was formidable, including Fife Symington, a former Arizona governor coaxed out of retirement to come to the rescue of his old friend. So worried was McCain about being rebuked by his own party that he threw his own hat into the race, announcing that he would run for state committeeman.

When the votes were counted, McCain and his entire slate were resoundingly defeated. Despite endorsements from virtually every Republican member of Arizona's Congressional delegation, Symington, who had never lost a race in his life, was crushed--as was McCain.


McCain's botched revenge has solidified his reputation in Arizona's Republican circles as a divisive, untrustworthy and even dangerous figure. Haney hopes the general public meets this side of McCain before his penchant for angry reprisals is invested with the powers of the presidency. "This just shows that McCain is mentally unstable and out of control and vindictive," Haney told me. "If he is determined to go through that much trouble to attack a district committee chairman, what does that say about his ability to handle real political problems?"

Think Progress notes:
Though he is blowing off today’s Senate vote on Iraq, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has made time for two important events on Sunday in South Carolina: “The first is an ‘old fashioned’ ice cream and hotdog social at 4 p.m. at Sugar ‘n Spice. … Later in the day, McCain will speak in favor of abstinence-only education at the Carolina Pregnancy Center’s Life in the City.”


Blogger liberal journal man said...

I sense no that those on the Right not only see McCain for his duplicitous self, but they are also experiencing McCain fatigue. McCain's star was highest in 2000. 7 years later, he reeks of typical Washington. It's hard to watch him speak sometimes (setting aside his positions) and it's hard to get excited about him (if you're a Republican).

8:46 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm really encouraged by this "McCain fatigue". I could almost get hopeful because, at this point, I don't see a strong Republican contender. However, that hasn't deterred the voting public in the past.

10:52 PM  

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