Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the fourth subject in Townhall.com’s series on potential 2008 contenders, visited South Carolina Thursday, June 29th. As special guest, McCain drew in the crowds at the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion for a 2006 Republican Party fundraiser, along with Governor Mark Sanford, and US Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. Townhall.com attended both a brief media session and the event. Included here are excerpts from both the media session and McCain’s speech.
If there is a frontrunner for the 2008 GOP Presidential Nomination, Senator John McCain is it. Why? Mostly due to his name recognition from the 2000 election and his reputation as a media darling. Many remember the bad blood between the McCain folks and the Bush folks in South Carolina in 2000, when the Bush folks figuratively broke McCain’s legs and literally ended his run at the GOP nomination.
Four years later, however, after serious efforts to appeal to the GOP base and a significant effort in helping President Bush win reelection in 2004, Senator McCain has largely repaired the rifts in South Carolina. In a poll last spring of likely South Carolina Republican Primary voters, 42% of respondents indicated they would vote for McCain. However, as most potential candidates respond, Senator McCain said in response to a question on his intentions, “I have not made a decision, and I will make one early next year.”
Scott Malyerck, Executive Director of the South Carolina Republican Party, said, “Senator McCain is a true American hero and a dedicated public servant. He has always done what he believes is in the best interest of our country.
Malyerck continued, “He is working hard while traveling across the United States talking about cutting government spending and winning the war on terror. If he does decide to run for president, he will have to make many trips to South Carolina to meet and talk with grassroots activists and Bush supporters both from 2004 and 2000. There is no doubt that South Carolina, with it's "first in the south" primary, will again be a key battleground on the road to the 2008 nomination.”
Senator McCain is at times very frustrating to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. One of the most ardent critics of the pork-barrel spending epidemic and a staunch, articulate defender of the War on Terror, he also infuriates conservative Republicans with legislation such as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, the recent amnesty proposal, and the “Gang of 14” (though he was exonerated on the effectiveness of the “Gang of 14”).