Joe Scarborough

What happens when voters get buyers’ remorse before they even pick a candidate? The answer lies in the Republican presidential field for 2008.

U.S. Senator and war hero John McCain has been the presumptive front-runner since he backed President Bush in the 2004 campaign. With the ugliness of the 2000 election behind the Arizona senator, it looked like McCain’s deal with Bush would clear the way for his 2008 bid. But the wheels of the Straight Talk Express came off a few weeks back and forced the senator to rush to Iowa.

John McCain has been hurt by three factors.

First, his steadfast support for an increasingly unpopular war has put him at odds with public sentiment. Even if GOP primary voters want their candidates supporting the Commander-in-Chief, recent polls show even they are wary of a long term commitment to a three-sided civil war.

Second, the mainstream media types who fawned over McCain in 2000 because of their contempt of Mr. Bush have abandoned their former golden boy. That title has been passed to Barack Obama, whose anti-war views are a tighter fit with most reporters and talking heads.

Third, and most troubling to McCain, is the sudden emergence of Rudy Giuliani. No one saw the former New York mayor’s meteoric rise in this month’s polls that put Giuliani 20 points ahead of the pack.

John McCain is old news for now. The target has been moved to the back of Rudy Giuliani.

A few minutes after those great polls showing Giuliani’s ascent into first place, the media got Rudy’s boy to say that his dad would be a good president even if he was a lousy dad. Ugly stuff. And more is sure to come.

Conservatives are already crowing about a 1989 clip of Rudy calling for federally funded abortions—a position so liberal that Democratic candidates haven’t even dared broach that topic in recent years. Add to the fact that the mayor is on record supporting abortion rights, gun control and gay marriage and you have a relationship with Republican voters that is sure to get rocky.

Maybe that’s why some conservatives are hoping Newt Gingrich jumps into the presidential race.

Not since Ronald Reagan has a Republican leader been able to articulate the conservative vision of where America needs to go like Gingrich. And you can bet that the former speaker will explain the stakes of America’s war on terror better than any GOP leader including the president.

Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough hosts "Scarborough Country," nightly at 9pm on MSNBC and Morning Joe in the mornings (6-9am).

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