>WHY CONSERVATIVES MUST SAY “NO” TO JOHN MCCAIN AND MIKE HUCKABEE
The contest for the Republican nomination is now down to two candidates. Conservatives have a clear choice: we can place expediency above our principles by voting for John McCain or we can unite behind a classic conservative, Mitt Romney. Those are the only two viable choices remaining. A vote for one will expedite our nation’s leftward drift. A vote for the other will advance the conservative principles, aka liberty, that history has proven to be best for all people.
John McCain: Big Government Republicrat
John McCain wants us to believe that he is the true conservative candidate. The popular McCain narrative is that he is the war hero, government shrinking, country uniting conservative and, most importantly, the only one who can defeat the Democrats in November. McCain continually proclaims that he is proud to have been a foot-soldier in the Reagan Revolution. That is to be commended but what about the last two decades? Anyone who has followed politics for the past several years knows that John McCain is no Reagan Conservative. Rather than running through the usual litany of issues, let’s take a look at John McCain’s politics in relation to the Democrats, the old media, and big-government Republicans.
McCain and the Democrats
Grover Cleveland once said, “A man is known by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out.” What company does McCain keep? John McCain is the favorite Republican of the Democrats and is consistently praised by the old media. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle revealed earlier this year that McCain’s chief political strategist, John Weaver, approached the Democrats about the possibilty of joining the Democrat Party. The Hill reports, “Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain ‘had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.'” McCain’s response: “I have never considered leaving the Republican Party, period.” No matter who is telling the truth, what makes the story so believable is that it is just as easy to see McCain as a Democrat as it is a Republican.
In 2004, John Kerry offered the vice-presidential position to John McCain. John McCain said, “obviously I would entertain it.” At one time he said he was offered the VP slot, at another time he says he was not offered the position. Either way, it is difficult to imagine John Kerry offering his VP slot to one of our solid, principled conservatives.
One more head-scratcher: In 2005, John McCain told Tim Russert on Meet the Press, “I have no doubt that Senator Clinton would make a good president.” Conservatives have more than a doubt about that one. When Russert asked Clinton if McCain would make a good president, she replied, “Absolutely.”
What’s with this mutual admiration society with McCain and the Democrats? They have such high regard for one another because McCain has more in common with the Democrats than he does with conservative Republicans. Democrats like Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton love John McCain because they are on the same team so many times. They have different letters by their names but they hold much in common.
McCain and the Old Media
Democrats aren’t the only ones who love John McCain. The old media were very quick to annoint McCain as the front-runner and do all they can to help McCain get the nomination. The New York Times and now the Los Angeles Times have endorsed John McCain. These solidly leftist editoral pages have endorsed John McCain because they have a lot in common. The LA Times would be thrilled with the virtually open borders and amnesty of McCain-Kennedy. The old media would love to have a monoply on political speech resulting from McCain-Feingold’s attack on the First Amendment. McCain is an opponent of Bush and he sticks it to conservatives time and time again. He has embraced the higher taxes and increased government controls over the economy by means of the global warming fraud. He blocks steps toward energy independence by opposing ANWR drilling. Why wouldn’t the leftists who dominate the old media love John McCain? He supports many things they want. The same could be said of other Republicans but not any conservatives that I can think of.
The media are setting John McCain up for a fall though. If McCain can eliminate the possibility of a conservative becoming president, the media will breathe a sigh a relief, dump McCain and continue their efforts to ensure that Clinton or Obama becomes President.
McCain and the other Big Government Republicans
Big Government, Nanny State Republicans like John McCain consistently side with Democrats against conservatives by opposing tax cuts, pushing for open borders, blocking our judges, and limiting our freedoms. Former Senator Rick Santorum recently stated, “I just have to tell you, as a leader, as someone who had to put these coalitions together, it was always hard and we very rarely on domestic policy had any help from the Senator from Arizona.” And, “The bottom line is that I served 12 years with him, 6 years in the United States Senate as leader, one of the leaders of the Senate — the number-3 leader — who had the responsibility of trying to put together the conservative agenda, and almost at every turn on domestic policy, John McCain was not only against us, but leading the charge on the other side.”
John McCain engages in the class warfare rhetoric of the left when it suits his aims. When he was one of the very few Republicans who sided with the Democrats in opposing the Bush tax cuts, McCain claimed that the tax cuts for the lower and middle classes were acceptable but he could not support the tax cuts for the rich. That’s closer to John Edward’s class warfare agenda than conservatism. If cutting taxes is the right thing to do, and it is, then its right for everyone. McCain’s rhetoric against the so-called rich is disturbing.
McCain also raised a red flag during the California debate when he raised the prospect of government intervention in the sub-prime mortgage issue in the form of punishing lenders. This is an example of McCain’s Big Government Republicanism in the form of a command and control economy. It betrays McCain’s underlying belief that big, nanny government knows how to handle the intricacies of the economy better than the private sector and the free market.
At a time when many people are saying that the economy is their number one political concern, John McCain’s lack of consistent economic principles is troubling. He admitted that he lacked depth when it came to economic matters only deny that he ever said such a thing when confronted about his statement. Joking that you’re going to read Alan Greenspan’s book and consult him whether dead or alive might be good for a few laughs but it hardly inspires confidence.
And when it comes to his fellow congressman, why does McCain consistently support big government Republicans over conservatives if he is such a strong conservative? Many Republicans will remember John McCain’s support of the liberal senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, over the rising and very popular conservative candidate Pat Toomey. Specter versus Toomey presented a stark contrast of ideas and McCain’s endorsement of Specter is very telling.
We’re Republicans and not Democrats for a reason
If you, like John McCain, are against tax cuts, for open borders and de facto amnesty for illegal aliens, for public financing of campaigns and the accompanying damage to free speech, for higher taxes and economic controls in the form of global warming schemes, oppose replacing our oil imports from Saudi Arabia by blocking drilling in ANWR, worry about judges wearing their conservatism on their sleeve, think that Hillary Clinton would make a great President…there is already a party for you. It’s called the Democrat Party. If these policies represent you and you are a Republican, that’s all well and good, just don’t call this conservatism. Don’t expect the majority of Republicans to go along with you in voting for a non-conservative to represent the party. Again from Sen. Santorum, “I’m concerned we’d have a president whose first reaction would be to go to the other side to solve a problem instead of trying to find like-minded Republicans to come up with solutions. There is nothing worse than having a Democratic Congress and a Republican president who acts like a Democrat in matters that are very important to conservatives.”
I appreciate John McCain’s military service and many of his positions on national defense. His wartime record is tremendous and I am grateful for his service, particularly as a P.O.W. I believe it is helpful when our Commander-in-Chief has prior military experience but if that were of utmost importance I would have voted for John Kerry rather than George W. Bush. McCain touts his support of the surge in Iraq but he is not the one responsible for the surge. He does not even attempt to hide his disdain for Donald Rumsfeld but the Secretary of Defense answers to the President, not the other way around. If McCain has problems with our strategy in Iraq, he should criticize Bush directly but he does not do this in order to avoid alienating the base of the party. Rumsfeld is a more convenient target. McCain is wrong on closing Gitmo and wrong on constitutional protections for enemy combatants. Conservatives agree with McCain in much of his positions on Iraq but that does not necessarily make him the best candidate for Commander-in-Chief.
The Only One Who Can Win in November?
Electability is important but is not the most important consideration. The most important consideration is our principles and the fact that conservative principles are what’s best for the nation. Let’s lose the election to the Democrats before we abandon our principles by voting for a candidate who echoes the Democrats. We continue to move to the left and move to the left. In the meantime, some Republicans say, “Well, at least we’re not as bad as the other guys.” We need to stop the drift and take a stand.
Some Republicans complain that we shouldn’t criticize McCain in case he gets the nomination. Let’s cross that bridge if we get to it. John McCain is not the only one who can beat the Democrats in November. Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan in the polls and we know how that one turned out. Things will be different once we get this down to a one on one contest between the Democrat and Republican. This contest isn’t over yet. If conservatives will unite with Mitt Romney, we can still nominate a conservative. And on that note…
Conservative Huckabee Supporters, It Is Time to Switch to Romney
If conservative voters would unite behind one single candidate, we can keep the Republican Party conservative and defeat John McCain on Super Tuesday and beyond. We can nominate best remaining candidate with the best ideas for the country. Right now, each and every conservative Huckabee, McCain, Paul, Thompson and Giuliani supporter needs to realize that this is now a two-man race between John McCain and Mitt Romney. If we want to elect a conservative, we cannot split our vote. It is time to unite around Mitt Romney.
A Vote for Huckabee is a Vote for McCain
How? Like it or not, Huckabee is done. Huckabee does not and will not have the delegates, momentum, or money. Huckabee will probably win Alabama and maybe a couple other states but he will not win the nomination. Most Huckabee supporters probably realize this. If you are one of the few who still thinks that Huckabee can win the nomination, there is probably very little that can persuade you to change your vote. But if you are one of the majority who understands that Huckabee will not win the nomination, please switch your vote to Mitt Romney.
Voting for Huckabee will accomplish nothing for you. One AP report this afternoon stated, “In the short-term, McCain is helped by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist preacher who remains in the race and could split the conservative vote with Romney in the Bible Belt and elsewhere.” This is certainly the case. If you are a conservative and you know that Huckabee cannot win then you also know that voting for Mike Huckabee is the same a voting for John McCain. By voting for Huckabee you are splitting the conservative vote between Huckabee and Romney and thereby strengthening McCain. Huckabee’s supporters believe that he is the best conservative candidate but now, after Huckabee’s losses in SC and FL, voting for Huckabee will actually undermine the principles you hold to because you will assist a candidate who does not share your principles.
Principles Over Politics
Some Huckabee supporters, and I hope these are few, are taking satisfaction in the fact that votes for Huckabee next week will hurt Romney and stick it to conservative talk show hosts. One popular conservative and evangelical blogger wrote, “Also, having McCain as the nominee really ticks off all the people that unfairly trashed Huckabee (Rush, Mark Levin, et. al.). It may not be enough to ease my discomfort over McCain, but it nevertheless brings me great pleasure.” And, “Fortunately, he still has enough money to stick around and bleed votes from Romney.” Comments like these are bitter, petty, immature, and vengeful. Think about it. Hurt feelings over Huckabee getting roughed up by Romney in previous weeks are worth helping to elect the obviously more liberal John McCain? To believe that would be very short-sighted.
On Thursday, Mike Huckabee said, “If people think that I’m quitting, they need to get the message loud and clear. Somebody’s going to have to beat me.” And, “There’s no way I’ll walk away.” Loud and clear message to Mike Huckabee: the GOP has already rejected you. Huckabee has been beaten. When he lost South Carolina, he lost the nomination. Losing Florida sealed the deal. I don’t know if McCain and Huckabee already have a deal worked out but the only thing Huckabee staying in the race does is help McCain. If Huckabee won’t drop out of the race, conservative Huckabee supporters need to drop him and vote for the only remaining conservative candidate with a chance to win: Mitt Romney.
Why am I focusing on Mike Huckabee and not Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul? First, it is Mike Huckabee who stands to take the most votes away from Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday and beyond. Second, I already expect many conservative Giuliani supporters to swtich to Romney as I’ve said previously. And third, I don’t expect Ron Paul supporters to change their vote at any point in the campaign. The same thing goes for conservative Giuliani and Paul supporters: don’t split our vote. Switch to Mitt Romney.
Our loyalties do not rest with any one candidate. Our loyalities do not even rest with the GOP. Our loyalties rest with the principles of liberty. Most of us are probably not going to be able to go with our first choice but that’s life. That’s politics. I wanted Fred Thompson to be the nominee. Romney is not even my second choice but he is obviously the best conservative candidate left. It was Otto von Bismark, Prussian and German statesman of the 19th c., who once said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” For Mike Huckabee, becoming the GOP nominee is not possible. Mitt Romney is the next best conservative candidate and for him, the nomination is attainable.
Mitt Romney: The Best Remaining Conservative Candidate
Mitt Romney wasn’t really on my radar screen when I first started to decide who to vote for. I knew that Romney came to some of his conservative views late in life and that was enough for me to take a pass. I knew that Thompson was who I wanted to go for so there was no need to look any further. When it became clear that Thompson could not get the nomination I had to take a deeper look at the remaining candidates. What I found is that Mitt Romney is the best remaining conservative candidate. He is not perfect and he is not my first choice but if we have to choose between McCain and Romney, and that is who it is down to, then it is clear who must unite behind.
But He’s a Flip-Flopper!
In a blog post earlier this week, David Frum of National Review states the concern that many conservatives have had with Mitt Romney, “I do not find it easy to believe in the sincerity of Romney’s abrupt post-2002 conversion to more conservative positions on abortion, gay rights, gun rights, and immigration. People change their minds, I accept that. But on so many issues? All at the same time? And at such a convenient time?” This is a legitmate concern. As Frum goes on to say, “I agree with those who say that conservatives should always welcome converts. The proviso is, however, that you should welcome only those converts you can trust to stay converted.” Will Romney stay converted on abortion, gun rights, preferential treatment for gays, and immigration? Time will tell but the indications from the past six years look good. Romney has consistently made the case during the campaign that the principles of conservatism are indeed his principles.
Some conservatives cannot get past that fact the Mitt Romney has only been pro-life for the past several years. On this point Michael Reagan commented, “It may come as a surprise to these purists, but Ronald Reagan once supported abortion too. Yet nobody ever questioned his strong pro-life credentials after his conversion to Republicanism. They accepted his sincerity. Why can’t they accept Mitt Romney’s? Romney’s record shows he should be totally acceptable to all conservatives, yet because of one dubious question concerning the validity of his conversion to the pro-life side, he is deemed unsuitable to carry the conservative banner.” Reagan conservatives should be willing to accept those who have switched from pro-choice to pro-life even if the decision was made later than they would have liked.
Most Consistently Conservative Candidate…Remaining
Fred Thompson was my first choice for President. He was the most consistently conservative candidate of the race. Now Romney is the only remaining candidate who legitimately represents all three branches of the Reagan conservative coalition: social conservatism, economic conservativism, and strong national defense. In an interview with blogger Edward Morrissey, Romney stated, “I do represent all three branches of the conservative coalition. I’m a social conservative. I respect the right to life; I respect traditional family and I respect the right to citizens to bear arms and so from a social conservative standpoint, my credentials are firm. With regards to economic conservative my record is of not having raised taxes; balanced the budget of all four years of Governor; created a surplus account for over two billion dollars during my term as Governor and so my record of a growth conservative is also firm. And finally with regards to foreign policy and national defense, I am in support of growing our military capacity by a hundred thousand troops. I’m the first, I believe, of the candidates to call for raising military spending to four percent of GDP. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has now called for a similar figure and I believe that these credentials as well as my perspective on helping developing the world wide strategy to defeat global Jihad establish my credentials as a conservative in all three areas of conservative strength.” McCain is strong on national defense but weak on economic and social conservatism. Huckabee is solid on social conservatism but weak on economic conservatism and unprepared on national security. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council criticized Huckabee on this exact point when he said, “The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues. [Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives.” Romney is stronger than the other candidates in all three areas.
Romney has consistently displayed a depth of knowledge and understanding when it comes to every major issue raised throughout the course of the campaign. In the debates, Romney was always prepared to give clear, meaningful answers and solutions to the issues at hand. Mitt Romney is ready to lead. He has a depth and range of executive leadership that no other candidate of either party can match. He was a governor, rather than a senator, and a business executive. He accomplished conservative aims in one of the bluest of blue states. Romney has picked up numerous endorsements from conservatives who know agree that Romney is the only choice for conserative voters: Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, National Review, Ann Coulter, Paul Weyrich, Mark DeMoss and others.
Republicans have a clear choice this week. We can vote for a liberal Republican who will take us further to the left as he mimics Democrats and aims to please editorial pages or we can vote for the best conservative candidate remaining. Conservative Huckabee supporters: stay true to your conservative principles by uniting behind the only conservative who has a chance to win. Don’t help McCain win by splitting the conservative vote between Huckabee and Romney. This Tuesday we can keep the conservative coalition intact by voting for Mitt Romney.
For more information on and analysis of John McCain’s record, see:
“McCain-Feingold — the most brazen frontal assault on political speech since Buckley v. Valeo. McCain-Kennedy — the most far-reaching amnesty program in American history.
McCain-Lieberman — the most onerous and intrusive attack on American industry — through reporting, regulating, and taxing authority of greenhouse gases — in American history.
McCain-Kennedy-Edwards — the biggest boon to the trial bar since the tobacco settlement, under the rubric of a patients’ bill of rights.
McCain-Reimportation of Drugs — a significant blow to pharmaceutical research and development, not to mention consumer safety.”
[Links and the comments following each of the above bills provided by Mark R. Levin, chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese in the Reagan administration, here.]
Romney Wins Maine Caucuses (AP)
Romney, McCain tied nationally (Rasmussen Reports)
Welcome, Fredheads and Huck-a-fans, Evangelicals for Mitt
A Conservative Case against McCain by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Mike Huckabee’s New Deal. More God, more government by David J. Sanders
Arkansas Under Huckabee: taxes up, government up, Democrats up and Republicans down
McCain, the anti-conservative by David Limbaugh
The Real McCain Record by Mark R. Levin
Conservatives push back against McCain by David Paul Kuhn