McCain’s co-sponsorship with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) of legislation to prevent global warming, his opposition to torture or waterboarding in terrorist interrogations, his support for campaign finance reform, his backing for regulation of tobacco by the Food and Drug Administration, his suggestion of serious corporate governance r eforms in the wake of the Enron scandal, and his crusade against earmarking by Congress all put him squarely in position to win disaffected moderates, Democrats, and independents.
He clearly would dominate the national security issue as the Republican nominee in a way that Romney, without the relevant experience, could never do. Particularly in opposing a female liberal candidate amid a global war against terror that could heat up at any moment, this is no inconsiderable advantage.
Hillary’s phony experience argument, which she could still maintain vis-à-vis Romney, would be hollow against McCain. And while Obama could point to a significant gap in their ages, Clinton, only 10 years his junior, could not effectively make age an issue against McCain.
Obviously, McCain’s strong support for the war in Iraq would be a point of contention and vulnerability in a general election against Clinton. But his support of the surge, and its evident effectiveness in reducing combat casualties, might well give him the better of the argument in front of a moderate general electorate.
It is only on the economy that McCain has a self-proclaimed (if inadvisably so) weakness. But Hillary would be overreaching dramatically if she claimed special expertise on this issue merely through the osmosis that she claims to be a feature of living in the White House. Her tax increase proposals, particularly her support for a higher capital gains tax, can be painted, accurately, as foreshadowing doom for the economy. Neither Hillary nor McCain can claim the economy as an especial preserve.
Can Romney? Inexplicably, the McCain campaign has not spoken of the layoffs that must have accompanied Romney’s efforts to “turn around” failing companies. Hedge funds are notorious for cutting jobs and the Clintons will make Mitt eat every single one. McCain has no such vulnerability and, hopefully, will make Romney’s layoffs an issue before Super Tuesday.
So McCain can win and Romney won’t. That’s the long and the short of it.