A political piece in The New York Post caught my eye. It said that conservatives were warming up to Senator John S. McCain, III (R-AZ). If McCain, as expected, makes another run for the Presidency, he would be the oldest man, if successful, to have been elected President. It seems that some conservatives are enamored with a new poll suggesting that McCain would defeat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) by a margin of 52% to 37%. Others point to McCain’s consistent efforts to cut government spending. Still others point to McCain’s support for the Right to Life. These conservatives want to forgive McCain for the McCain/Feingold legislation, which greatly restricted political speech. And these same conservatives, who are not part of the Religious Right, say it is acceptable that McCain has appeared to be hostile to that part of the Republican Coalition, since these pre-1978 Republicans don’t much like the fact that values voters of late have received so much attention from Congressional leaders.
There will be many candidates this coming season. Unless and until conservatives unite behind a single candidate, candidates who are unacceptable to conservatives, such as former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani or New York Governor George S. Pataki, could win the nomination to run against Hillary or some other Democrat, such as Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) or former Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner.
In 1988, when there was no incumbent seeking re-election the race was the split among conservatives, enabling George Herbert Walker Bush to prevail over a host of other more conservative candidates. It occurred again eight years ago when Governor George W. Bush became the Republican nominee because conservatives were in every camp. Although by this time a dominant force among the electorate, conservatives by virtue of their disunity, permitted the least conservative among serious candidates to be nominated.