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GOP Nominee Probable John McCain was booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today. Think Progress has a video. I’m told that Tom Delay appeared on Faux News this afternoon trashing McCain and claiming McCain supporters flooded the room with signs to drown out the boos. How dare they.

Dan Payne wrote at the Boston Globe before Romney announced he was dropping out:

Gathering nuts. Today the national Conservative Political Action Conference opens in Washington; it’s a gathering of right-wing Republicans, luminaries, and one president. Romney needs to wow them; John McCain needs to hire a food taster. If they take a straw poll and Romney wins, it will fire up right-wing radio for days.

At Salon, Joe Conason explains why McCain provokes paranoia on the right.

As Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Dobson and their lesser imitators furiously explain, they have strong reasons to distrust “straight talker” McCain, who straddles and shifts incessantly to advance his contrarian political strategy. He has so casually disrespected them and their opinions over the years, showing up routinely on the wrong side of so many of their issues, from climate change to gun control to campaign finance reform to the marriage amendment to the Bush tax cuts to judicial nominations, that endorsing him now would look like a wholesale abandonment of principle.

Moreover, the special interests of the right-wingers’ media panjandrums would be much better served by the defeat of a Republican ticket headed by McCain (especially if Huckabee becomes his running mate). In the aftermath they could argue that their party cannot win when the presidential candidate deviates from their dogma. Their profits and status would be depressed by a moderate Republican presidency, but greatly enhanced by a Clinton or an Obama in the White House.

For McCain to reach beyond the right-wing gatekeepers will be difficult, because rank-and-file conservative activists’ suspicion of McCain sometimes approaches paranoia. But like most paranoids, they have their evidence, too. Latent anger over his past betrayals was provoked into rage by his sponsorship of immigration reform that permitted a “path to citizenship,” better known as amnesty, or shamnesty, on the right. Beyond the issue itself were McCain’s alliances, not only with Sen. Edward Kennedy but with a broad coalition of liberal Hispanic and immigrant organizations.

More ominous still, for those of a conspiratorial bent, is the Reform Institute — the think tank founded by McCain, where senior fellow Juan Hernandez (who once served in the Mexican government) has divided his time between promoting liberal immigration policies and organizing Hispanics for McCain’s presidential campaign. As commentators in the right-wing blogosphere have noted with alarm, the Reform Institute has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from liberal foundations — most prominently the Open Society Institute, whose founder and chief funder is none other than George Soros. (Here I must disclose that I have worked for magazines that received OSI grants — and perhaps that also serves to emphasize the point here.)

You probably know already that George Soros is the Boogeyman.

Here’s a right-wing video that seeks to demonize McCain:



E.J. Dionne
:

Yet whatever divisions the Democrats face, it is the Republicans who confront an ideological civil war in which popular talk show hosts are serving as field generals determined to beat back McCain’s advancing army of Republican dissidents.

Despite his impressive victories, McCain continued to fare poorly on Tuesday among the conservatives who have defined the Republican Party since the rise of Ronald Reagan.

McCain won, as he has all year, because moderates and liberals, opponents of President Bush, and critics of the Iraq war continued to rally to him despite his stands on many of the issues that arouse their ire. And he prevailed because Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney continued to divide the right.

Huckabee became the champion of the Old South, winning in Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, and he nearly defeated McCain in Missouri and Oklahoma. Romney won a swath of states in the Midwest and mountain West.

McCain, in other words, lost the core Republican states and instead piled up delegates in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and California. All are traditionally Democratic states unlikely to vote for him in November. Rudy Giuliani’s strategy, which was premised on his strength in such places, actually worked — but it worked for McCain.

Better and better.

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11 Comments

  1. joanr16  •  Feb 7, 2008 @6:25 pm

    Romney’s already singing the “those Democrats want to surrender to the terrorists” refrain, as he edges away leaving the nomination to McCain. Looks like that will be their chief campaign theme for November.

    I can’t wait to see McCain in the debates. He’ll be almost as much fun as Ross Perot, I bet.

  2. Doug Hughes  •  Feb 7, 2008 @8:36 pm

    The election becomes a referendum on the surge. IMO, Dems on Capitol Hill did NOT cut funding for the war last year because they wanted the presidential election to be a referendum on the Iraq war. We are about to discover the elecroral difference between a war that was unpopular last year vs a surge that Republicans will try to sell as a success.

    If the economy sags, that helps Democrats. If conservatives field their own candidate, that defeats McCain. If McCain drafts Huckabee as VP, that will galvanize social conservatives who will vote for Huckabee’s ascendance to the throne via a heart attack for McCain. If there is a terroroist attack on US soil – all bets are off.

    But playing the cards on the table, the election will be a refereundum on the surge, becasue McCain is going to frame it that way. My gut feeling is that the far right will field an independent. And I keep getting the feeling that this election will be settled in the House of Represenatives.

  3. sniflheim  •  Feb 7, 2008 @8:38 pm

    McCain won, as he has all year, because moderates and liberals [as if there were still Republican liberals], opponents of President Bush, and critics of the Iraq war continued to rally to him despite his stands on many of the issues that arouse their ire.

    No shit. American voters continue to divine candidates’ intentions based on–what? I’ll never figure it out.

  4. Swami  •  Feb 7, 2008 @9:14 pm

    I don’t get it..Isn’t a perpetual war against Islam worth more to the conservatives than persecuting homosexuals or flushing out Mexican wet backs. What’s their beef?..Intelligent design is still alive, and Roe v.Wade remains under constant attack in spite of who’s president. K street has funded McCain so why are they so upset? I hear Dobson is considering not voting in the general election for lack of a suitable candidate. Oh boy, will we be sorry.

    I loved Romney’s parting theme..To die so that others may live. Pythias..?

  5. KingGeorgeTheTenth  •  Feb 7, 2008 @9:50 pm

    I watched Countdown tonight and Pat Buchanan said something I hadn’t heard before, McCain doesn’t even want to bother with a second term. If indeed the put the Huckster as a Vice-President with the implicit promise on not running a 76 year old McCain in 2012 against the bane of every conservatives life – Hillary Clinton – could they win?

  6. Zeus  •  Feb 8, 2008 @1:13 am

    A fox in sheeps clothing withdrew from the race today – my faith in the electorate is being restored.

    I suffered this fool as my governor for four years. It became clear very soon into his term that he had national ambitions. It was also clear to us that he changed his views to suit that purpose (and they called Kerry a flip-flopper).

    Despite the false bravado in his concession speech today (about party unity in order to save our country from the inevitable terrorist attacks under Democratic governance), you can be sure he will be praying for Clinton or Obama to prevail so he can run again in 2012. He wants it so bad he can taste it and will say whatever it takes.

    With that being said….. The shallow side of me wants to say how happy I am that Rush and Anne are soooo unhappy. Teehee!! Life is good!

  7. GDAEman  •  Feb 8, 2008 @11:37 am

    Follow up to Joanr16, Romney’s quote:

    If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

  8. Jonathan Versen  •  Feb 8, 2008 @2:35 pm

    At this point any establishment republican slamming McCain is essentially promoting Huckabee(I seriously doubt Delay favors Ron Paul), but you’d think they’d have enough sense to know that McCain is less likely to look like a bloody loony in the general election.

    Wouldn’t you?

    FWIW: I don’t think Romney believes any of the crazy sh** he says, and his nutso vitriolic concession speech was just designed to remind the GOP establishment that he’s willing to say all the crazy stuff they like to hear because he wants to be the VP nominee. My sense of Romney has always been that his only core ideology is that it would really, really be neat to be president.

  9. bruce  •  Feb 8, 2008 @4:12 pm

    All this b.s about McCain and the conservatives is a joke, just a media circle-jerk. It’s February, for chrissake. McCain has 9 months to unite the party, and he will. If Hillary wins, the Repubs will be all on-board the hate train.
    Go Barack..

  10. joanr16  •  Feb 8, 2008 @9:25 pm

    Something very weird just happened.

    We Nebraska Democrats caucus tomorrow, Feb. 9. For the first time in our meek little lives, for a few fleeting days, we’re on the national radar screen. And the times, they are a-changin’.

    I just received a phone message recorded by Senator Ben Nelson, Nebraska’s ghastly Repug-in-Dem’s-clothing, the absolute right-wingiest Democrat in the Senate, now that Lieberman’s an Independent. Nelson was calling to urge me to caucus for… Obama!

    Ben Nelson. Ben. Nelson. Supports Obama.

    Wow. Just… wow.

  11. Swami  •  Feb 9, 2008 @11:11 pm

    So, I take it that Ben Nelson is hitting the campaign trail for mano a mano McCain?

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