This was not always so . . . just a few months ago to a year ago Allen was leading in that Insiders Poll (actually, you can look at the figures and find that Romney has been gaining the most, percentage-wise, of any candidate. )
However, most self-proclaimed conservatives have major reservations about McCain. McCain does much better in cold-call phone polls than he does in Convention or Online strawpolls. His recent positions on the wrong side of the immigration bill and Marriage Protection Ammendment will give GOP primaries pause. I feel that McCain looks so strong now because of four things:
1) great name recognition
2) his great relationship with the mainstream media (MSM)
3) his strong polling against Hillary
4) a promise from GW Bush that if McCain sat out in 2004 and campaigned for W, that the favor would be returned in 2008 (Oh, THAT IS WHY HE KEPT CHENEY ON AS VP!) Bush may not be many things, but he is a man of his word.
Many have speculated on this fourth claim before . . . but two recent pieces seem to be putting the picture together pretty clearly now. First, a piece in the Washington Times called "McCain sitting pretty for 2008 race" starts out:
Some top Republicans at odds with Sen. John McCain on core conservative issues say privately that the party's 2008 presidential nomination is "his to lose."It then goes on to discuss former TEXAS Senator Phill Graham's support for McCain, despite not agreeing with him on some issues.
They cite the Arizona senator's head start in fundraising, a primary calendar that is shaping up in his favor and a growing belief that he enjoys the tacit support of President Bush.
"There are plenty of things I don't agree with John on, but I don't think they are important, compared to things I do agree with him on," the former Texas A&M University economics professor said.Later . . .
"What I've heard seems plausible to me -- that a deal was cut that if McCain supported Bush in 2004, the Bush team would get behind McCain for 2008," Republican media consultant Tom Edmonds says.Sounds like a challenge to me!
Among those who have signed on with Mr. McCain are Mark McKinnon, Mr. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaign media strategist, and Terry Nelson, Mr. Bush's 2004 national political director.
A senior Republican senator from a Western state who opposes Mr. McCain says privately, "Look at who he's got in his camp and look at him in the polls -- I'm telling you there's no one out there strong enough to beat him. It's his to lose."
Further information confirming the McCain-Bush alliance comes from a recent piece titled "Landing Big Campaign Finance Fish" found at Chris Cillizza's Political Blog "The Fix" hosted by the Washington Post.
Bush asked affluent individuals not simply to donate to the campaign but also to round up thousands of dollars in contributions from friends and colleagues. A tiered system was created to reward the most effective of this lot; "Pioneers" raised $100,000, "Rangers" $200,000, and "Super Rangers" $300,000.It lists who McCain has signed up already from this group of Bush donors:
Wayne Berman, lobbyist (D.C.) RANGERNotice anything interesting? They are all from D.C. and/or Texas! The Bush team is obviously strongest in D.C. and Texas. I do not see this as coincidental since, although McCain is oft called a "Maverick", his political record puts him more in line with a northeastern GOP Senator than a Texas-styled GOP Senator.
Fred Malek, Thayer Capital Partners (D.C.)
Carter Pate, PricewaterhouseCoopers (D.C./Texas) RANGER
Bob Mosbacher, Mosbacher Energy Co. (Texas)
Tom Loeffler, lobbyist (Texas) RANGER
What is even more interesting is that Romney has already signed on 12 (count them, TWELVE) of these major Bush donors. This group is the largest and most geographically diverse of all, thusfar:
Peter Karmanos, Compuware Corp. (Mich.)Frist has a strong team at 7, but it says:
David Fischer, Suburban Collection (Mich.) PIONEER
John Rakolta, Walbridge Aldinger (Mich.) RANGER
Dave Phillips, Phillips Industries (N.C.) RANGER
Tom Tellefsen, Tellefsen Investments (Calif.) PIONEER
Anne Dunsmore, Capital Campaigns (Calif.) RANGER
Hadi Makarechian, Capital Pacific Holdings (Calif.)
Herb Collins, Boston Capital Partners (Mass.) PIONEER
Jim Sims (MA) GEN3Partners (Mass.)
Joe O'Donnell (MA), Boston Culinary Group (Mass.) RANGER
Tom Foley, NTC Corp. (Conn.) PIONEER
Eric Tanenblatt, McKenna Long Aldridge (Ga.) RANGER
We hear that Virginia Sen. George Allen and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are huddling regularly with the whales but have yet to sign any of them up.So, going back to the list of four things that makes McCain the frontrunner now:
1) This will become a non-factor as the campaign wears on
2) Romney's charisma, great interviewing skills/telegenicity, and the controversial Mormon issue may turn him into a favorite among many in the media . . . though the MSM "powers that be" will untimately look to destroy a true conservative like Romney.
3) There are a lot of options to beat Hillary . . . McCain is not the only choice . . . Giuliani and Romney would be able to do this hands down.
4) Although Bush seems to have pointed the closest in his political machine in McCain's direction, it looks like the financial donors are thinking more independently.
This Bush-McCain "back-room deal" of trading support will not sit well with the media or the GOP electorate . . . it may just turn out to be McCain's "back-fire deal."