Even though Bush and McCain kissed and made up over McCain's 2000 ad campaign announcing that Bush "twists the truth like Clinton," it remains awkward for McCain to present himself as Bush's natural successor. Perhaps mending those fences isn't the best strategy for McCain -- since 2000 he's worked with the president on various issues, leaving him with a lot of Bush's publicly unpopular baggage. Yet on immigration, McCain's as scolding and insulting as the president can be; to many, as a supporter of the president's policy, he's a supporter of "amnesty." At the Manhattan Institute event he talked about a teenager who died crossing the border -- as if those who want enforcement first, including the members of his own party in the leadership in the House of Representatives, were to blame for her death.
But what if the unspeakable happens? What if we're attacked again within the borders of the United States? Rudy Giuliani has an obvious Sept. 11 gravitas. But who has the foreign-policy cred? As one pro-McCain politico recently told me, foreign policy is McCain's "key asset": "His national-security credentials ... are accepted across the political spectrum. Given the state of the world, I don't think anyone is going to be elected president in '08 who isn't ready to be commander in chief from day one. In truth there are few people in either party who can satisfy that requirement."