Archive for Tuesday, April 29, 2008

McCain taking GOP out of comfort zone

April 29, 2008


— While the eyes of the political world were focused on Pennsylvania last week, I played hooky for a day at the invitation of the Lee County Library and bumped into a story as revealing in its way as the latest round in the struggle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Among other things, it explains why John McCain found it useful to spend last week touring poverty-stricken areas in the South, where Republicans rarely go.

On the same day that Pennsylvanians gave Clinton a victory that still left unclear who will eventually be the Democratic nominee, voters in Mississippi's 1st Congressional District failed to settle who will fill the seat left vacant when Republican incumbent Roger Wicker was appointed to the Senate.

The seat has belonged to the GOP ever since the retirement of the legendary Jamie Whitten, a conservative Democrat who held it for 53 years. Wicker succeeded him in 1994 and established a Whitten-like hold on the district, winning with 79 percent and 66 percent of the vote in the last two elections. President Bush carried it easily in both his races, too.

And yet, the Republican hopeful in last week's special election, Greg Davis, has been forced into a runoff on May 13 against Democrat Travis Childers. Childers actually led 49 percent to 46 percent and came within 400 votes of a first-round majority that would have sent him to Congress. Four other candidates diverted just enough votes to force the runoff.

As a mayor and former state representative from the district's largest population county, Davis was the early favorite. He had the endorsement of Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Thad Cochran, Wicker and the man Wicker replaced, Trent Lott. Davis also outspent Childers by almost 2-1 and pummeled his opponent with a flood of negative ads, emphasizing the standard GOP menu of social issues and adding a vivid recital of alleged scandals in Childers' nursing home business.

But Childers exploited resentment in 23 other counties against Davis' reliance on his home base, in the populous suburbs south of Memphis. Beyond that, he relied on the same issues that produced a surprise Democratic win in a special election earlier this year in the Illinois district vacated by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. High gas prices, shaky job prospects and a grinding war in Iraq have fueled a call for change.

The message to Republicans could not be plainer: In a time when the public has soured on President Bush and the GOP, the old appeals are just not enough. To have a chance, Republican candidates have to expand their reach and reframe their message.

McCain for one seems to have grasped that warning. Over the past week, as he toured the South from Selma to Little Rock, he clearly was signaling a shift from the traditional GOP way of courting Dixie voters.

In Selma, McCain praised the African-Americans who, more than four decades ago, were clubbed and beaten by Alabama state troopers at the start of their anti-segregation protest march to Montgomery. He vowed, in their memory, to bring his campaign - and the publicity it attracts - to the "forgotten places" of America, and to help the families in those communities if he becomes president.

At other stops, including the Kentucky hamlet where Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty and in New Orleans' hurricane-obliterated Lower Ninth Ward, McCain condemned the performance of the Bush administration and offered his own free-market ideas for creating more jobs, improved schools and better health care.

The Democrats were quick to call his message hypocritical, noting, for example, that McCain had opposed making a national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. That's a fair fight.

But what is incontestable is the fact that McCain sees the need for Republicans to reach beyond their past comfort level and engage the many Americans who have every reason to doubt they are anywhere on the GOP agenda. To many of those struggling to survive, who are accustomed to being ignored, if not exploited, the Bush administration's blindness to the plight of the residents of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit is all too typical of the Republicans' mind-set.

Relying on the same old right-wing messages cost the Republicans heavily in 2006 and lost them Hastert's seat this year. Roger Wicker's may be the next "safe" Republican bastion sacrificed by that blindness. John McCain does not want to find himself on the same list.

David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

The Democrats were quick to call his message hypocritical, noting, for example, that McCain had opposed making a national holiday of Martin Luther KingJr.'s birthday. That's a fair fight.--demorats raising this issue=hypocrites! couple weeks ago, mccain expressly apologized, said "i was wrong" regarding the king holiday! shows their fecklessness. *sure wish it was fredT or duncanH instead of mccain. some of mccain's katrina criticism seems shallow, staged, and only for political maneuver. remember: mississippi did a lot better and that because they didn't have a governor who came apart. they didn't have mayor "schoolbus" Nagen. it is a shame mccain is somewhat aligning himself with the hatebush lefty nuts who always bring up katrina without recognizing that the officials on the ground there really failed. Nagen could get people out to their pollingplaces, but couldn't evacuate them? governor blanco cried, gave bush incorrect info regarding the levees, and delayed the federal help. she and others there caused the superdome insanity because they didn't want supplies brought there, just wanted people to keep moving.

ilikestuff 10 years, 1 month ago

I agree with Mike. I am no fan of John McCain, however, he appears to be the best of the three candidates so far. It is a terrible shame that one of these three is going to be President as there are so many better candidates. I would prefer a candidate, perhaps, Colin Powell, who rather than dreaming of prestige feels a responsibility to be President.Further, it is a shame what the leadership of this country has become whether it be political, social or spiritual in nature. In every sense a leader must be a servant first yet leadership in this country means to be served first, last and always.I suppose given the nature of our Republic my complaint is against myself and all who who vote or don't vote allowing this foolishness to perpetuate.Thank you.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

madmike,you wrote well and very perceptively. now this afternoon barry h. o'bama is putting out yet another statement to further distance himself from pastor wright. as you point out, his connections to wright and this church are too deep and go 20 years back. the black liberation theology preached there, he's had his little daughters under that, and the hateful rants of rev. wright. suggests barry h. o'bama has a lack of character strength or judgment. he had to know what was being preached. Oprah left that church about 20 years ago. the funny thing is, if a white republican candidate attended an equivalent church, preaching white separatism, hatred and bigotry, he or she would be toast in two seconds. this highlights a huge double standard. wright this weekend said what was aimed at him was actually an attack on the black church. his comments actually affirmed many of his most offensive comments, i.e. that the government manufactured aids and put it out to kill black men. in other quotes of his that have just come to light: he likened the u.s. marines to the roman soldiers who put jesus on the cross; and he directly described al-qaeda and the u.s. as moral equals. nothing barry h. o'bama can say will change this. Rev. Wright's media splash of the weekend may have completely sunk his campaign, along with his own comments that small town midwesterners (like us here) cling to guns and faith out of bitterness. insulting elitism. ***mccain is proposing a free market healthcare solution instead of the democrats' huge government big brotherism. hillary would strongarm people into signing up. the dems forget that many of the people without health care have chosen to be without healthcare! one thing driving that choice is the high cost of health insurance. the dems have a huge list of items required to be covered by health insurance. well, duh, what does that big list do? raise the individual cost! mandate certain coverage, mandate higher premiums. simple.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago[a group that seems to be planning disturbances in denver dem convention if barry h. o'bama is not nominated.]define R68Sometimes we need to look back to move forward. In 1968 there existed a spirit of change, the Paris Rebellion, Prague, Chicago, Vietnam, etc. People believed,around the world, that they were capable of taking over the institutions that controlled their lives. The smell of revolution was in the air. Over 1 millioncollege students openly identified as revolutionist. People believed that through mass participation in the movement, it was possible to wrest controlfrom the elite power-holders. They were not willing to accept the loss of their human and civil rights.Recreate 68 is not a throwback group trying to relieve some vision of glory days long gone. We are predominantly a youthful group that has realized that40 years later, we have only produced apathy in our communities towards making effective and lasting change. We intend to recreate that need for changeand mass participation in the events that shape and control our lives. We intend to recreate that revolutionary feeling and pick-up where our predecessorsleft off. It is time to reclaim the ideals that we have forgotten and leap forward by stepping back and using that voice inside of us that has been tellingus something is seriously wrong, a voice that is shouting for change, a voice that has realized we live in a police state and we have stopped moving forward40 years ago. When we recreate positives and discard negatives from our collective memories of the past and realize the true power that the people possess,we will have the ability to make 2008 a very special year. This is the true meaning of Recreate 68. Don't let this historic moment pass you by. Join uson this journey and have your energies and voices heard in the streets of Denver, as we demand change during the DNC in 2008!HomeDO IT IN DENVER!SEE YOU THERE!

storm 10 years, 1 month ago

It is unfortunate that the media spinned Mr. Kerry's purple hearts as a fabrication. And now it is most unfortunate for Mr. Obama that the media took Reverend Wright's quotes out of the context of his speech. (Anyone read the speech or heard it entirely?) It's pathetic that people can't see past the media's like National Enquirer on steroids.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

wright's comments this weekend confirmed most of his rants. specifically he confirmed he does believe that the government manufactured aids and got it into the black male population to kill them. there were two or three others which he actually confirmecd. so, put away the "taken out of context" defense, ithas really worn thin. besides how does any context explain away "u.s. of KKK of a." preaching as if all white americans are prejudiced. I'd say, that is yet another form of racism: if you think I am a racist simply because my skin is white, then you sir/mam are a racist.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

one of wright's most important comments this weekend was saying that barry h. o'bama was a politician and that he just had to say what he had to say...implying that he thought barry h. o'bama was less than truthful. ***barry h. o'bama's denounciation of wright today was obviously too little too late. now, people are increasingly questioning his electability in the general election. his comments today don't touch what wright has done to him. he walked with this man for 20 years. though he "says" he denounces what wright says, he stayed in wright's church that long, kinda implies support and agreement.

storm 10 years, 1 month ago

I read the first speech and listened to the second speech, both entirety...for those who have not, best to not regurgitate Murdoch media.

fu7il3 10 years, 1 month ago

The odd thing is that before McCain was named, I would would bet that the Republicans didn't have a chance in hell of winning the presidency due to Bush's problems.Now, with the say the Democrat nomination is going, it actually seems that McCain is picking up some swing votes, and it might be a close race. McCain might even have a chance to win it. I'm saying that as a guy who generally sides with Democrat candidates.

Phill_Davis 10 years, 1 month ago

"McCain sees the need for Republicans to reach beyond their past comfort level and engage the many Americans who have every reason to doubt they are anywhere on the GOP agenda."Except when McCain runs on the Bush tax cuts, Bush's wars, and Bush's health plan, he shows that those people aren't anywhere on the GOP agenda.

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