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Is Senator McCain Accepting Matching Funds?

Thursday, December 27, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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I missed this Politico.com article from last week that asserts John McCain’s broke campaign will accept federal matching funds.

The significance of this decision is enormous –it would cap the money Team McCain could raise and spend between now and the GOP Convention, essentially forfeiting the months between March and September to the campaign of either Senator Clinton or Obama which have both refused public funding.  The Clinton or Obama campaign will raise millions and millions more than the cap and blast away at the crippled McCain campaign if he does in fact accept the match while going on to the very improbable capture of the GOP nomination.

Imagine getting hammered and hammered for six months beginning in March by the Dems and being unable to respond because a horribly managed campaign went broke and was obliged to accept the federal hand-out with its strings attached.  Going dark in the spring and summer is tantamount to forfeiting the general.  Neither Giuliani or Romney will do this, and both can count on the other’s financial backers to come on board behind the other fellow if their guy loses.  I have to think Politico misreported this as a certainty as any such decision would be widely and rightly reported on at length. Senator McCain owes the GOP primary voters clarity on this issue, and a Shermanesque rejection of the possibility of accepting the cap.

See also Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff’s assessment of the McCain attacks on Mitt Romney.  Key graphs:

Both responses by McCain have this in common — they fail entirely to address the substance of Romney’s criticism. The reason, of course, is that McCain has no good response. He did oppose tax cuts, support for which does lie at the essence of Reagan conservatism. Similarly, he did support comprehensive immigration reform and his line on that support now is a grudging acknowledgement that the American people (though not necessarily McCain) want border security first.

The McCain campaign is playing something of a double game. It is touting McCain as the real conservative in the race, even as McCain surges (at least in New Hampshire) due in part to support from lliberal newspapers (the Boston Globe, the Concord Monitor, and the Valley News — the Union Leader, though not as conservative as it once was, is still legitimately conservative) and non-Republican voters.

Conservatives might ask themselves why McCain has the support of the Boston Globe, et al. The answers from these liberal organs aren’t very convincing. They cite McCain’s personal heroism, which has never been regarded as reason enough to support someone for president (if McCain advocated the policies Romney does, the liberal papers would probably warn that he’s the dreaded man on a white horse). They cite Romney’s flip-flops, which are real enough but can’t explain supporting McCain instead of, say, Fred Thompson.

The real reason why non-conservatives prefer McCain is because he opposed President Bush’s tax cuts, supported comprehensive immigration reform, sponsored McCain-Feingold, denounced effective but harsh interrogation techniques, etc. In other words, precisely the kinds of things the Romney campaign is legitimately pointing to. And the reason why independents like McCain is because he himself is, in many respects, an independent (with all the positives and negatives that go with that status). When the next controversial issue comes up, McCain will stake out his position based on his personal “take,” not on party, or conventionally ideological, principles. The other leading candidates (except perhaps Huckabee) are less likely to do so.

See also my column at Townhall.com today: John McCain Needs A Neurolyzer.

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