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Rudy “Goes After His Enemies, And You Know, McCain’s Problem Is That He Has A Certain Hunger To Go After His Friends. That’s The McCain Problem.”

Saturday, December 29, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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I loaded up yesterday’s program with pre-caucus analysis for you to sift through over the next four days between toasts and kickoffs.

First, an interview with Mitt Romney.

Then an interview with NationalReview.com’s Jim Geraghty.

Then an interview with Commentary Magazine’s John Podhoretz.

Then an interview with Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer.

Finally, an interview with the WashingtonPost.com’s Chris Cillizza.

(Audio of all these interviews available here in podcast form.)

If you missed it from yesterday, here’s a post on the McCain-Kennedy immigration bills from 2005 and 2007, and from a day earlier, a column on John McCain’s long record of ignoring the party’s collective desire on many key issues, but most especially cutting taxes, immigration, judges and the federal Marriage Amendment.

Powerline’s Scott Johnson posts on McCain’s reliance on the endorsements of newspapers, most of which are very liberal, and asks:

The McCain campaign of course touts the Monitor’s endorsement today. But why should Republicans take the advice of liberal Democrats on their party’s nominee for president? Or take Senator McCain’s willingness to part from them on key issues as a reason for voting for him? The Monitor’s endorsement of Senator McCain is suggestive of Senator McCain’s appeal to independents and liberals. It is also a potent reminder of why many conservatives distrust him and believe that he is not one of us.

Bob Novak reports that Huck is sinking, and that was before the pageant of gaffes over the past 48 hours (see this, this and this.)

Key excerpts from the linked interviews above.

From Romney:

HH: Governor Romney, one of the first tasks for a conservative in the White House will be to get control of the Department of State, and the Central Intelligence Agency, that keep turning out these NIE’s and leaking things. Do you have the capacity to do that?

MR: You know, there’s nothing more political than corporate America. And you have to be able to rein in those individuals that are, if you will, doing things that harm our national interests. And I’ve watched with some concern over the past weeks, and years, frankly, it’s going to be very difficult to turn around our State Department, and get it to respond to the position that the President would take. John Bolton’s recent book, Surrender Is Not An Option, is a good inside look at how disruptive and counterproductive our efforts in the U.N., or our efforts at the State Department can be. But that is something which I’m up to, and I’m looking forward to.

It is very good to know that Romney is reading Bolton.

From John Podhoretz:

JP: I trust Giuliani’s judgment more than McCain’s, in the sense that I think he would come at it from the right angle, and that you know, McCain is often sidelined or sideswiped by personal quirks, I would say, that he gets ornery about. And you know, the thing about McCain is that he, and the thing about Giuliani is that he is a fighter, you know…

HH: He likes to fight.

JP: He goes after his enemies, and you know, McCain’s problem is that he has a certain hunger to go after his friends. That’s the McCain problem.

From Chris Cillizza:

HH: I also think he tricked John McCain into fighting on the wrong terrain for McCain. He got McCain to get angry about immigration. They’re sending around the e-mails this afternoon. They’re quoting Howard Kurtz. And so that puts the McCain-Kennedy immigration bills of ’05, ’06 and then the big bust up bill of ’07 front and center, and in front of a Republican electorate that hated everything John McCain stood for through those debates.

CC: That’s absolutely…Hugh, that’s just what I was talking about before, about people maybe, your average voter maybe not grasping every single detail of what’s going on. The broad thing they hear is McCain and immigration, right?

HH: Right.

CC: And so that reminds them, wait a minute, John McCain, he’s not as conservative as he says he is. You know, he was part of this bill. I think you’re right. I think that’s territory…Mitt Romney, I think, fights a fight over immigration with John McCain every single day of this campaign if he can.

From Jim Geraghty:

JG: However, [McCain’s] not a guy, if I were him, considering how the immigration debate was raging the most over the summer, that is when the SS John McCain crashed on the rocks, earlier this year.

HH: Sure.

JG: So I would want to get any other topic, other than immigration, to be the dominant one. Now you know, the Romney ad that came out today, arguably a contrast ad, arguably a negative ad, came out and it was like a mirror image of his ad that he put up against Huckabee in Iowa, which raised it. And so I think McCain had to address it. I’m not an enormously huge fan when candidates come out and say oh, it’s a negative ad, they’re being mean to me, they’re being harsh, can’t we all be friends, la la la, you know.

HH: I am not, either. It’s not a negative ad. A negative ad is when someone comes and calls you an SOB, or suggests you robbed a bank, or used drugs when you were 18. Coming out and reminding people that you’ve been consistently against the party on tax cuts and immigration reform is not a negative ad. Do you agree?

JG: Oh, yeah. I mean, there are certain clichd ingredients of a negative ad. Grainy, black and white photos…

HH: Right.

JG: The ominous-voiced announcer, you know, music that sounds like the soundtrack to 24, or something like that, you know, there are certain elements that would make you say that not only is this guy not somebody you’d want to vote for, you don’t want to let small children near him. And I think it’s safe to say that the Romney ads that he’s put in Iowa and New Hampshire are very much literally are contrast, in that half the screen has the Romney record, half the screen has the McCain record. I even think it was kind of nice that they began by saying McCain is an honorable man.

From Fred Barnes:

HH: Now late this afternoon, the McCain campaign sent around an e-mail citing Howard Kurtz saying the ad is unfair. Fred Barnes, if you were John McCain, would you be bringing attention to the McCain-Kennedy bills of ’05 and ’06 and ’07?

FB: Well, not given the way most Republicans seem to feel now on the immigration issue. Look, I think that ad was fair enough, and responsible enough. I mean, why people get so whipped up about so-called negative ads and attack ads, usually, they’re just ads that talk about somebody’s record, and if he’s your opponent, you criticize it, and then you cite yours. I think he’s actually, Romney is, he’s more accurate on what he says about McCain than I think what he says about himself, but it’s a perfectly legitimate ad. And the press, well, Howie Kurtz is just wrong.

From Charles Krauthammer:

CK: [Huckabee’s] been just all over the place on Pakistan, embarrassingly so, talking about today the Eastern provinces, which are the bad ones, when in fact it’s the ones in the Northwest. I mean, he doesn’t even have a map. He can’t even find it.

Read them all, and enjoy the last weekend of a very long political year.

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