…and I, for one, think it’s a good thing. After being given up for dead just a few months ago, John McCain is surging in the polls and turning up in the news. Liberals are trying to make something of the fact that he answered a question by a Republican partisan about “how we beat the bitch” (i.e., Ms. Hillary) without falling over in a dead faint. This, of course, can only be good for his primary prospects.
Today, McCain held his more or less weekly blogger conference call. He was his usual direct, irreverent, uncompromising self. McCain began by noting that some bloggers (e.g., Paul Mirengoff) have come on board his bus “in response to my insults,” and he encouraged others to do the same. He went on to apologize for the fact that there was no blogger call last week, which he attributed to “incompetent staff…these work release programs aren’t what they should be.”
Then he was off and running on a tour of Iraq, Iran, the Senate, pork, health care, military procurement, judges, you name it. On every topic he was good-humored, engaging, knowledgeable, tough and conservative. I can’t think offhand of anything he said I disagreed with; much of what he said was inspiring. McCain talks with the freedom of a candidate who knows that win or lose, he will go down in history as a hero. He also has complete confidence, I think, that on the big issues of our time–the threat of Islamic extremism, the need to rein in federal spending for the sake of future generations, the superiority of market solutions to government programs–he is not only right but on the side of history.
It’s no secret that I like McCain a lot. He is a life-long and thorough-going conservative, a man who has grappled publicly with every important issue of our time, a man whose courage, dedication and intelligence are beyond question. He took a wrong turn, I believe, on a couple of major issues. McCain will always disagree with most Republicans on campaign finance reform, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me. He got on the wrong side of the illegal immigration issue, along with President Bush and others, but has since moved back toward the Republican center, arguing that while a comprehensive solution is ultimately necessary, the American people have made it clear that they want enforcement of the borders and of our existing laws first.
And I think that McCain has an excellent chance to beat Hillary Clinton or any other Democratic nominee. He has always appealed to independents, he has the sense of humor that Hillary lacks, and his history of heroism and achievement makes Clinton, Obama and Edwards look small by comparison. So a resurgent McCain campaign is, at the very least, a welcome addition to an already-strong Republican field.
PAUL adds: Hillary Clinton came up twice while I was traveling with McCain on Saturday, once in response to a reporter and once at a town hall meeting. Both times, McCain began by stating how much respect he has for Clinton. On the bus he described her as a knowledgeable and very hard-working Senator. He also mentioned that they’ve traveled together. He then hammered her on the issues, especially pork.
I think McCain strikes just the right tone on Hillary and would have a good shot at defeating her, perhaps the best shot of any Republican. I’ve heard from well-placed folks on the Democratic side that, before McCain began his slide, the Clintons feared McCain more than any other Republican.
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