The McCain Coalition

Ken Blackwell

5/1/2008 8:17:43 AM - Ken Blackwell

In May, Senator McCain will give a much-anticipated speech on judicial nominations and will speak to the members of the National Rifle Association on May 6 and 16, respectively.

These two speeches are smart moves.

The Supreme Court is the single most-important issue for millions of conservative voters. A candidate’s choice of judges can seal the deal or be a deal-breaker.

And the Second Amendment is a critical issue in this presidential election. Millions of swing voters are solid Second Amendment supporters. When a pro-Second Amendment Republican is up against an anti-gun Democrat, that issue can decide the outcome of a close election. It certainly did in 2000 when President Bush beat Al Gore.

Senators Obama and Clinton have taken a shockingly-radical position on firearms, and with the D.C. gun ban case pending before the Supreme Court, it’s critical for Mr. McCain to reaffirm his support of the Second Amendment to the NRA.

Mr. McCain also is reaching out to swing voters and to those who normally don’t hear from the Republican presidential nominee — he is traveling to areas that don’t often see Republican candidates like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and Youngstown, Ohio. He has criticized the Bush administration’s ham-handed response to Hurricane Katrina. His outreach to minority voters, acknowledging both the Republican Party’s historical mistakes and his own mistakes, showed humility and a willingness to learn and grow. This is what Americans want to see in a president.

Moderate voters sided with the Democrats by huge numbers in 2006, giving that party both chambers of Congress. Mr. McCain’s continued efforts will win back millions of those voters.

The Arizona senator’s path to victory is eased by the fact that many of the issues facing Americans are priorities to both Republican base voters and swing voters. And core Republican principles such as limited government, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity resonate with many Americans, and deliver results.

An example of this is the cost to our society of family fragmentation — divorce and unwed childbearing. A recent study released last week by the Institute for American Values stated that family fragmentation costs American taxpayers $112 billion per year — a staggering sum. That’s more than one trillion dollars over a decade.

According to the study, divorce hits communities with increased costs for antipoverty and other social welfare programs. And, it also reduces government coffers because it lowers the incomes and tax brackets of those individuals.

Divorce creates even more economic damage when you look at litigation costs, liquidating assets, child care, counseling, relocation, and all the other economic difficulties that everyone going through divorce is faced with.

So the conservative agenda of encouraging marriage and doing everything possible to help couples get through tough times is something that many swing voters welcome. While not all marriages are saved, there are countless situations where the right help at the right time can make the difference. The conservative emphasis on teaching family values, honoring your marriage, and caring for children as a precious gift, reverberates with people from all walks of life and all political stripes.

And studies like the one referenced above also unite social conservatives with economic conservatives. Helping couples succeed in marriage helps children, helps the economy, and helps the nation. As Senator McCain speaks out on issues like these, he will find the majority of Americans nodding in agreement.

So while Senators Clinton and Obama continue their slugfest, Mr. McCain can address these issues. If Mr. McCain continues to energize and mobilize the Republican base while winning over moderate voters, he just might become the 44th president of America.