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WP: McCain "Stands Tall" Despite Attacks

From the front page of the DNC’s Washington Post:

After Romney’s Barrage, McCain Stands Tall

By Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; Page A01

On Friday, Mitt Romney accused John McCain of being the Democrats’ favorite Republican. On Sunday, the former Massachusetts governor mocked McCain’s endorsement in the New York Times and then observed, “If he’s been a leader, where has it led us?” On Monday, Romney accused McCain of clobbering Florida taxpayers at the gas pump. Yesterday, he called him an economic novice.

But last night, the senator from Arizona emerged from that negative onslaught a survivor. In money and message, Romney threw all he could at McCain in a bruising week in Florida, but it did not prove to be enough.

“You don’t want to say it doesn’t get you anything because a lot of campaigns are won on negativity,” said John Weaver, a longtime political adviser to McCain. “But if Romney wasn’t born on third base, if he had to campaign and fundraise like everyone else, I’m sure he wouldn’t be here anymore.”

The Republicans’ swing through Florida was a watershed. Not only was it the first big state of the presidential nomination fight, but it was also the first state that looked like the United States at large, with all its ethnic, religious and racial diversity, its economic haves and have-nots, and the sheer scale of its political universe. Romney was able to stay close, in part by far outspending McCain, but also by finding his strongest message yet as the can-do businessman standing against the ineffectual Washington insider.

“You’re getting your first taste of a real American election in Florida,” said Bill Nelson, the state’s Democratic senator. “Romney was telling folks: ‘I ran a business. I ran a state. I know how to run things and McCain doesn’t.’ Romney was hitting hard that McCain is not a real conservative. And I guess it didn’t work.” …

[I]t was Romney’s strategy that was laid bare, when he led with his chin and challenged McCain on his record on campaign finance, immigration, the environment and the economy…

In the end, though, those arguments did not appear to resonate with many Florida voters. The powerful Cuban immigrant community went for McCain over Romney by a 5 to 1 margin, according to the network exit poll. McCain beat Romney by 10 percentage points among voters older than 65.

McCain even won among voters who would seemingly be open to Romney’s economic pitch. Of the 63 percent of GOP voters who said the economy is doing poorly or not well, 41 percent sided with McCain, compared with 27 percent who voted for Romney…

Romney insiders believe that because of McCain’s opposition to President Bush’s signature $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan in 2001, they could portray the senator as not in command of the issue now soaring to the top of voters’ concerns.

Romney, however, faces a steeper hurdle in drawing those contrasts with McCain in the Super Tuesday states. In Florida, as he did in other early states, Romney blanketed the airwaves with ads financed partly by his own fortune. According to Nielsen Co., Romney ran nearly 4,500 ads in Florida by Monday, compared with 470 by McCain.

But with so many states up for grabs on Tuesday, it becomes increasingly difficult for Romney to leverage that kind of an advantage against his chief rival nationwide.

Who needs to spend money in advertising when you have the mainstream media behind you? Besides, Mr. McCain has plenty of his wife’s money to spend on ads, if he so desired.

And never mind that this was a victory in a state that despite claims to the contrary seems to have allowed “independents” to vote as Republicans. (According to CNN’s exit polls, 17% of supposedly Republican voters called themselves “independents.”)

And never mind the unusually high numbers of old people and Hispanics who quite naturally voted for one of their own, and the country be damned.

And it is also quite hard to buy Florida as the US “writ small.” It isn’t. It is a liberal state.

But according to the Washington Post none of this matters. This was simply a stunning triumph of good over evil. Of poor honest and hardworking John McCain over rich lying and wicked Mitt Romney.

(Why is it we so seldom hear about the money that Mr. McCain married? Or how McCain-Feingold has made running for President even more expensive?)

Still, the mainstream media’s campaign for Mr. McCain has been nothing compared to what we will be seeing between now and next “Super” Tuesday.

And, given how things turned out in Florida, it’s clear it stands a good chance of working again.

(By the way, just how tall can Mr. McCain stand? Isn’t he only about 5′ 9″?)

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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