Mitt Romney says some of the right things, but you're always left wondering whether he really means it. How can a man change his position on so many issues in such a short time and be counted on to stick to what he says today? I'd give Romney more credit if he ran as the moderate he governed as in Massachusetts. At least then I could trust his word, even if I didn't agree with him on every issue.
Which brings me to why I believe John McCain comes closest to the Reagan standard. There is no question that McCain has vision. He sees the danger the United States faces and doesn't flinch. When Romney was weighing whether to endorse a surge in U.S. troops in Iraq or pressure the Iraqi government into adopting "timetables," McCain said it was more important to him that we win the war in Iraq than that he win the Republican nomination. With McCain, conviction trumps ambition every time.
There are some issues with which I disagree with McCain. I think McCain-Feingold is bad law, and I'm confident that some of the anti-free speech elements in it will be struck down by the Supreme Court. But on the most important issue, the security of this nation, McCain has no equal.
And on most domestic and social issues, he's more often right than wrong, including immigration. No matter who wins the nomination and, ultimately, the presidency, I predict we'll get immigration reform in the next few years closer to what McCain proposed than anything his rivals are trumpeting now. In fact, what is most troubling about Huckabee and Romney's current positions is that they appear to be pandering to win votes -- and it hasn't worked well as McCain's wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida demonstrate.
John McCain is the only candidate who comes close to embodying Ronald Reagan's spirit.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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