24 hours have passed since news was released of Mitt Romney’s endorsement of John McCain for re-election to the United States Senate. Opinions vary as to why this decision was made. Looking at a broader view for America’s future, Romney weighed the potential outcome of the Arizona senatorial election. There were many considerations pro and con, but in the end, Romney chose strength for the United States military and a strong national security. The need for McCain’s gravitas and experienced, respected, powerful influence on national security matters point to Romney’s core belief that keeping Americans safe trumps all.
John McCain press release yesterday:
PHOENIX, AZ – U.S. Senator John McCain’s re-election campaign today announced that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has endorsed Senator John McCain for re-election to the United States Senate.
Governor Romney today issued the following statement:
“For years, I’ve been an admirer of John McCain. Then we became competitors. Today, I’m proud to call him my friend.
“In my view, it’s hard to imagine the United States Senate without John McCain, especially in the critical times we find ourselves in, with double-digit unemployment, a mountain of debt imperiling future generations and a global terrorist threat from jihadists bent on destroying our very way of life.
“It is times like these that we look to leaders of character. Senator McCain’s record of service and sacrifice for America is honored by all. But I believe that it is his core values of courage, faith and honor – forged in battle and confirmed by a lifetime of service to America – that make Senator McCain’s leadership in the United States Senate so necessary in these perilous times. Not only am I proud to call him a friend, but as an American I am constantly reassured by Senator McCain’s continued involvement in the affairs of our nation, and I am honored to support him.”
“Governor Romney is among the brightest and most dynamic leaders in our Party, and I am proud to have his support,” said Senator John McCain. “I look forward to working with him to advance our shared vision for a stronger, safer and more prosperous America.”
Thoughts on Romney’s endorsement of McCain:
After gracefully exiting the presidential campaign, Romney became a cheerful warrior for McCain. He logged countless hours fundraising for his onetime opponent and appeared on the senator’s behalf almost anywhere the campaign asked, including at the Democratic National Convention. His competence and dedication won him begrudging fans among McCain’s senior staff, who later freely admitted they’d misjudged him. McCain himself was deeply appreciative of Romney’s work, and was won over personally after spending time with Romney and his gracious wife, Ann, at the senator’s Sedona ranch. Romney ended up in serious contention for McCain’s VP slot, and as the financial crisis took over the agenda, he became one of McCain’s valued go-to sources of advice and perspective on economic issues.
So perhaps the news of Romney’s endorsement isn’t all that surprising. It’s good for McCain to have someone with Romney’s financial expertise and centrist appeal come out in his favor. It also helps McCain to appear connected with someone considered part the GOP’s future. The question for Romney, who’s emerging as the GOP’s most serious contender for 2012, is, what’s in it for him? For starters, a friendship with McCain has lots of benefits. McCain is still an excellent drawing card for fundraisers, and although Romney has vast personal wealth, having a name like McCain on board makes a big difference. McCain could also lend a Romney candidacy some foreign-policy and national-security credibility, particularly with Republican voters. Romney lacks it; McCain has it in spades. And McCain has always been popular in New Hampshire, a critical early state.
The move fits nicely with Romney’s apparent strategy. My Gaggle pal Andrew Romano calls it the “adult in the room” approach. Unlike some of his potential opponents, Romney is incredibly strategic about his public appearances. He doesn’t weigh in on every news cycle. He gives selective interviews to drive home messages on the key issues facing the Obama administration: the economy, national security, the auto bailout, and health care. But we don’t see his perfect coif on TV every day, and he’s not racking up a litany of quotes he’ll later wish he never said. Instead, he’s using the George Costanza approach: end on a high note and leave them wanting more. Next week he begins a national tour for his new book, which is touted as a “blueprint for maintaining America’s global leadership.” Advisers say he’ll offer a serious, intellectual analysis of America’s place in the world.
I bet John McCain thought, when he won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, he was playing the most pivotal role he would ever play in the party. Apparently that was not the case. He now has an even more pivotal role. McCain has become a walking conservative litmus test.
The conservative base at the moment is on a mission to rid the party of so-called RINOs, and McCain is the poster boy for their ire. This is not without some justification. McCain’s past support for free-speech-restricting campaign finance reform, his opposition to the Bush tax cuts and his blocking of a Republican attempt to end Senate filibusters against Bush judicial nominees deserved the criticism they received.
But if you’re a philosophical conservative, and your goal is to get policies enacted that are most crucial to the nation from the conservative point of view, it doesn’t necessarily stand to reason that the best way to do it is to toss out every RINO in a primary and replace him with a so-called “true conservative.”
Relax, ‘true conservatives’: There’s a good case to be made for Romney and Palin (and you) backing McCain:
On national security, McCain has always backed, and proposed during his presidential campaign, the very strategy most conservatives believe Obama has erred by not pursuing. If McCain were president, we would still be putting a missile shield in Eastern Europe. We would be taking a hard line on Iran. We would not be bending over to let the Taliban back into the political process in Afghanistan.
On health care, McCain has been a consistent and effective voice against Obama’s proposals throughout the past year, and his own proposals in 2008 would have moved the nation toward the sort of consumer-directed system we need, not the sort of top-down system we already have, and that Obama would make worse.
- Because of his seniority and standing with the media, McCain can be an effective voice for the conservative positions on the above-mentioned issues. Many conservatives have criticized McCain for making too nice with the media over the years, and not without some justification, but at this particular point in time his having done so can come in very handy. It’s precisely because they do regard him as something other than a blustering partisan that his criticisms of Obama carry weight and get air time.
- J.D. Hayworth shows signs of not being a serious person. His big-spending, earmarking track record, we’ve already covered. His past ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff should give any one concerned about ideological principle serious pause.
Surely there are plenty of reasons for conservatives to be upset with McCain about his past track record. But no election held in 2010 is for the purpose of repeating the past. It’s to put the best people in place to make the best decisions for the nation going forward.
Whatever his faults on other issues, McCain is for the right things on spending, health care and national security. His seniority and bipartisan credibility put him in a good position to advocate effectively for these things. And it just might be that, while Hayworth could make the case that he is the “true conservative,” Palin and Romney recognize the results for the nation – from a conservative point of view – might very well be better if McCain is the guy Arizona sends back to the Senate to get them done.
What good does it do to elect a “true conservative” if he can’t achieve what conservatives think is important?
The definition of “RINO” is not “any politician who deviates in any material respect from conservative principles.” A RINO is someone who deviates in virtually every material respect. In fact, when it comes to national security, most social issues, most economic issues, judges, and many other areas, McCain is one of us. I’m not sure that our goal as a conservative community is to simply support the most conservative candidate in any given primary. There’s a lot more to effective leadership than ideology, and such a mindset encourages the rather unpleasant ideological puritans in our midst.
Mitt Romney 2012
3-8-10 UPDATE by Ross: