Paul  Weyrich

Whatever one thought of President Richard M. Nixon, political advice was worth considering. One cannot help but think of the late President as one observes the current race for the Presidency. Nixon suggested multiple times that a potential Presidential nominee run to the left or right in obtaining the Presidential nomination, but upon securing the nomination the candidate should run to the center, as that is where the majority of the electorate is. He pointed to Barry M. Goldwater who ran hard to the right to secure the nomination in 1964 but failed to run toward the center and was crushed in the general election. He highlighted George S. McGovern who ran hard to the left to secure the Democratic nomination in 1972 but who continued to run to the left in the general election and was defeated by Nixon.

Those who disagree with Nixon often point to President Ronald W. Reagan who ran to the right to win the nomination in Detroit in 1980 but did not move to the center for the general election and yet crushed the incumbent Jimmy Carter. One can argue Nixon's advice with case studies. The fact is that most candidates of either party tend to follow it. And so it is with Senator Barack H. Obama (D-IL), who ran to the left of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) to win the Democratic nomination but who has since galloped to the center. Guess what? It is working. A colleague expressed amazement that more of an issue has not been made of Obama's move to the center. He expected Obama to lose support from the left over his centrist moves. My favorite local radio talk show host, 630 WMAL's Chris Plante, suggested that if Obama maintains his move to the center, he may find himself more in agreement with Obama than with the presumed GOP nominee, Senator John S. McCain III, who has taken many positions in his career which upset traditional conservatives.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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