Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction: McCain vs. GOP

McCain looks to pick up Arizona, according to the polls, but Romney has a strong following and won't let McCain walk away with it without a fight. Furthermore, much of the recent polling has taken on the accuracy of weather forecasting. Obviously, neither candidate sees Arizona as a critical state as far as the number of available delegates, but McCain can't afford to lose face in his home state. So the Senator is working hard to get party leaders to break their neutrality pledges and line up behind him hoping Republican voters will follow suit. So far, his strategy appears to be paying off to a limited degree. But all is not gold in Arizona.

Currently, Republicans and independents represent a strange mix when it comes to McCain. Many independents see McCain as the anti-partisan maverick needed to shake things up and get something done in Washington while some are disgruntled Republicans who see McCain as an opportunist untrue to many GOP principles. Republicans, likewise, are fairly conflicted. Some boo loudly at state conventions when McCain's name is read while others demand loyalty to the long-term Arizona senator who spent time in a POW camp during his military service.

While McCain will pick up many independents and loyal party Republicans, his challenge is to persuade less-convinced Republican activists and party leaders that they should ignore his organized funding boycott of the state party and not reciprocate by boycotting his run for the nomination. Loud criticism of his support for amnesty the past couple of years has led McCain to turn up his nose and walk the other way whenever he's had an opportunity to help the party encouraging his largest supporters to do likewise. Now he needs state party leaders and GOP voters to solidify a victory in the state. With no sign of an olive branch forthcoming, it looks like McCain is intent on digging in and holding his position. How much of an effect this will have on his success in the state remains to be seen. He may win the state, as expected, but even a narrow win would communicate weak support out of his home state—something that could hurt him in the long run if the contest drags on past Super Tuesday.

Confucius say he who poke stick in eye of friend, lose friend, but he who extend arm, lose enemy.

If ever there was a time for Senator McCain to lay down the stick, this would be it. It can only help him on Super Tuesday.

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