Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who saved John McCain's candidacy?

According to Stephen Dinan, we did. That is bloggers, in general, not specifically Marcie and I. As he explains, while talk radio was ripping him a new one, bloggers did what the GOP is doing right now:

Even as talk radio was brutalizing Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primaries, conservative bloggers reached a respectful truce with the Arizona senator over touchy issues and gave him what the campaign called a "tremendous positive psychological" boost.

The main reason: Mr. McCain's blogger outreach, the most extensive of any presidential campaign in either party, helped keep him afloat in the dark days last summer when the major press was sizing up his campaign grave. During those times, Mr. McCain got attention and digital ink from the bloggers he invited to biweekly conference calls, and got a chance to talk policy.

"During the unpleasantness, whenever Senator McCain put himself in front of reporters, the question was always, 'How much did you raise today, when are you dropping out,' " said Patrick Hynes, a conservative blogger who Mr. McCain hired in 2006. "And then we'd put him on the phone with bloggers, and they'd want to talk about Iraq, and pork and chasing down al Qaeda."

For the campaign, it came down to deploying the campaign's best asset — Mr. McCain himself — in a forum where he can excel.

Mr. Hynes said the back-and-forth with bloggers took "a great deal of sting out of the criticisms" over immigration, Mr. McCain's push for campaign-finance changes and other areas where conservatives have registered their discontent with the senator, who has secured enough delegates to win the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

"It gave him a microphone when others had already left the building," said David All, one of the Republicans' Web pioneers who runs Slate Card.com and who said Mr. McCain has benefited from Mr. Hynes' ties to bloggers. "That very much symbolizes the role of bloggers: We don't have editors to report to, and there isn't a big meeting with editors every morning. What that comes down to is personal relationships."

It also helped that Mr. McCain treated bloggers similar to other reporters, including repeatedly inviting them to travel on the campaign bus with the press, said Matt Lewis, who blogs at TownHall.com.

"If anybody needed the blogosphere it was McCain," Mr. Lewis said, adding that Mr. McCain recently told bloggers he would continue to give them access throughout the campaign. "He essentially said, 'How could I not — there for a while this summer, you were the only people who talked to me.' "

See, here's the problem from where I sit. Talk radio -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham -- they all kept telling their audiences why they didn't like John McCain. With the exception of Ingraham, who first dallied with Fred Thompson and then Mitt Romney, the other two refused to pick a candidate. They kept reminding people that they don't make a choice in the primaries. That was costly for whichever candidate they had supported, but refused to reveal. Those on talk radio were tossing hammers at McCain, and he was able to weather it by going to the next level of the alternative media.

It's obvious that helped him. And he didn't shy away from the tough questions. As Captain Ed pointed out in the numerous conference calls he participated in when he blogged over at Captain's Quarters. He faced the questions regarding immigration, and didn't blow his stack. He explained himself for those willing to actually listen.

Do we have reservations about him? Of course we do. But that doesn't change the fact he is the nominee, and that out of the three running for the presidency, he is the better man for the job. Talk radio and self-described conservatives might have believed he was dead in the water. But given the fact that Thompson dropped out (a no-brainer, really, as he seemed to lack the excitement one needs for a national campaign) and that Romney dropped out, the only one left standing that had a chance was McCain. But it took more than blogs to put him over the top. It took a base which swallowed it's pride, and accepted him.

We know a lot of conservatives will still say they'll stay home on election day. The "cold-day-in-Hell" crowd is going to sit at home and pout. They'll try to convince their friends and family that McCain isn't the right man. These people will cut off their noses to spite their face. And in the end, they'll see their efforts were for nothing because the GOP base will turn out for John McCain. This isn't about a tantrum in a mid-term. We're electing the president here. The GOP base knows it, and they know if they stay home, we'll either have Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the next president. Personally, that's not a prospect any Republican would be happy with.

Publius II


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