March 5th, 2008
02:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Is McCain 'moving beyond' conservative outreach?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - For years, Republicans have stressed a three-pronged platform in trying to win votes. They’ve long maintained that they’re strong on national security, on cutting taxes and on social issues, including a strong opposition to abortion.

When President Bush welcomed John McCain to the White House to endorse his presidential candidacy, for example, he said voters will decide on a candidate based on who best can “protect the country and keep taxes low, and how to have a culture that respects the dignity of every human being.”

After effectively capturing the Republican nomination Tuesday night, John McCain stressed only two of those three pillars in his carefully-crafted remarks.

He spoke at length about national security, noting that “America is at war in two countries.” He spoke about the economy. “We will campaign to strengthen job growth in America by helping businesses become more competitive with lower taxes and less regulation,” he said.

But missing from his remarks was any reference to the third pillar - the social issues. Even though he has a long record opposing abortion, he ignored that sensitive issue in his victory speech. Was that deliberate? Now that he has the Republican nomination in hand, is he already moving beyond the need to reach out to the social and religious conservatives in the Republican Party in the hope of bringing in support from moderate and independent voters?

The late President Richard Nixon used to say that successful Republican presidential candidates need to run to the right during the primaries - but then run back to the center after securing the nomination.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Vig

    McCain should be offering American's mea cupla's after 8 years of a disgraceful Bush presidency, not seeking his endorsement. McCain will lose because American's won't be able to stomach another Republican president for a very long time.

    March 5, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Haley Rodman Clemson

    McCain is his own man. Always has been. He is respected by all who know him. As the nation gets to see that he is a man of his word and that he lets his heart and mind work in unison to make this country a better place, I have no doubt that Americans will accept him as their next president. He is in the same party as President Bush but comparing the two is like comparing Joe Lieberman to Dennis Kucinich.

    March 5, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Tom

    CNN ought to free up the moderation of this blog...I don't see how my comments about the founding of this country versus the socialist/fascist bent of Democrat Party leaders is not 100% appropriate

    March 5, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. TX Richardson

    Obama is a liar and he does not have the guts to answer tough questions.
    For months, Sun-Times investigative reporters have had a standing request to meet with Obama, face to face, to get answers to questions such as these:

    • How many fund-raisers did Rezko throw for Obama?

    • Obama is donating $150,000 to charity that Rezko brought into the campaign. But how much in all did Rezko raise?

    • Did Rezko find jobs for Obama backers in the Blagojevich administration or elsewhere?

    • Why did Obama only recently admit - after Bloomberg News broke the story - that Rezko had toured his South Side mansion with him in 2004 before he bought it?

    March 5, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Bill

    I frankly do not believe that McCain will be able to beat Obama and would have a tough time against Clinton. However, while one poster stated that Obama would not be willing to take Hillary as his vice president because she is a woman, is silly. At the end of the democratic primary, it may be necessary for him to do just that for the unification of the party. However, there are reasons that this might not be a good idea. For the past three weeks, Hillary has said that Obama lacks substance, which supporter repeat over and over as if they forgot how to think for themselves. Likewise, Obama supporters discuss change in this same way. The reality is that Obama's substance cannot really be questioned. He was a state senator and is a US senator. He was law review editor of the Harvard Law Review. He did not take some fluff job making ridiculous cash. He went back to Chicago and was involved in helping low income people. I say this to make the point that he has plenty of substance and possibly too much integrity; however, I think that the next seven weeks can be good, because people need to see that he can be tougher when challenged by critics. The question is, when this is over in seven weeks, will Hillary Clinton be willing to take a VP position or was she just talking about a combined ticket on her terms(with her as President)?

    March 5, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Ronald Reagan, Hell


    ….I should have been a liberal, not betray them……………..


    March 5, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Matt

    Mc Cain plans on running the same type of program as Bush. The "Smoke N Mirrors" policy. Yeah, it sounds good to have a stance on the economy to repeat the words of past policy. The bottom line is, if Mc Cain is elected we will continue to see rising inflation, lower wages, and more jobs shipping over seas.

    March 5, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Jeff, Australia

    McCain is a very old man. Experience Shikspeareans, when the man talks his mono-tone voice has an amazingly hypnotic effect on me. Mind control conspiracy anyone?

    March 5, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Doug from Toronto

    Nice try CA, but Hillary was extricated as a defendent last January. Potential first "First Man" Clinton is still a defendent however. The Clintons have proven they will never be liable to fraud charges

    As for McCain, he should run on his own principles. Anyone who could suffer broken bones in crashing and then torture at the Hanoi Hilton, and yet refuse exchange and freedom until all prisoners captured before him were first offered freedom obviously has the character to rely on his own principles.

    March 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Puddytat

    sounds like low slave wages ... social issues ? Ya mean the things that would have been debated with HUCKABEE ? What do you mean , "Is he already moving beyond the need to reach out to the social and religious , conservitives " ? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND ? What made you think JUAN MCCAIN OF THE B.S TRAITOR EXPRESS ever intended too.

    You knew he wasn't going too . That is why you sissy's at cnn wanted him so bad .

    March 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Puddytat


    March 5, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Matt

    Wolfy, Did you notice that Mc Cain struggled with the true conservative votes. It seemed like Huckabee controlled the vast majority of those votes. Also, after Mc Cain won his nomination last night both Hillary and Barack had a chance to speak. Did you notice in Obama's speech that he touched on some of the conservative tone. When he said "We need to put books in the hands of our children instead of a video game", doesn't this go a bit to the right? Also, do you think that this is strategy on the part of Obama to win in upcoming states. Now that the republicans have their guy, maybe Obama is trying to express some moral sense to shift this conservative rural pool of voters.

    March 5, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Yeswecan

    I like Blitzer, he acts as a professional news person. Last night Anderson Cooper and his team are all like came back from funeral, with such sad expression on them. Answerson Cooper and many people on his team is biased. Those people will not have any future in the news business, since they are sided and not fair. CNN keeps deleting my message, since I pointed out their unfair.

    March 5, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Less than 8 years ago, Bush painted McCain as the Devil Incarnate- mentally unstable from years of being a POW (in a war Bush's Daddy got him excused from)

    Now Bush says McCain is the best possible person for the job – a conservative Republican's dream and the nations next Savior.

    Bush either lied on 2000 or is lying now. McCain has sold his soul trying to get elected to the job he should have had 8 years ago but other than that – hasn't changed all that much.

    March 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. okoth

    I think john mcain is a great american but with all due respect he lacks or choses not to recorgonize the complexity of foriegn affairs , first and foremost am had pressed yet to find exactly what being a pow translactes to a strong national security credential eg. to show how shallow he is, on resent issue on alqaida in iraq the senator failed completely to understand diverging our attention in a war of choice in iraq lead to increase in political and security instability in the region case in point pakistan and hence the regency of talaban in both pakistan and afganstan. its like having on one end of a building and setting diliberately fire on the other end of the building and turnig arround and saying the best judgement of being a fire chief.

    March 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Philadelphian trapped in Texas

    Nixon understood that the American public has no capacity to learn from experience. Note that Romney's ardent conservative backers forgot he was a liberal. See how quickly McCain's right-wing opponents have overcome their opposition. Now see how fast unthinking "independents" will forget how far to the right McCain swung to gain the Republican nomination. Because it's "just words". Maybe Obama is wrong. Maybe words don't change anything.

    March 5, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Angelika

    Has anyone noticed? A LOT of Republicans have stated they showed up in Texas to vote for HILLARY BECAUSE MCCAIN WAS A SHOE-IN. They KNOW that with all of her baggage–Obama only has Rezco and the NAFTA thing, both of which were explained–she is EASY TO BEAT. PEople tell me to think for myself... I have. I have looked through their sites, watched the debates, and researched their histories. I want Obama.

    March 5, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. tomdavie

    Mc Cain will win lationos.

    Obama cant win Arizona, texas new mexico .

    Mc Cain will win California. Huge Latino populatiion that will not support Obama.

    Nancy Reagan will just have to make a speech or two.

    Then, the real problem?

    All the clinton supporters voting for Mc Cain. They have nothing in common with Obama except he is in the Democratic party.

    March 5, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. James CA

    To be honnest I see absolutely nothing in McCains policies that makes me think he'll be any different from Bush. I don't understand what 'independent' politics they see him presenting, he's become very aligned to the right.

    March 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. Nowlin w.wells

    Mr.Mc Clain and hillary can not add. The problem with Hillagry is that she
    does not have the dignity to beviewed for this type of office. She is trying to lead by example. So this is not the office for her .
    Mr.Mc clain will not to understand if the war is wrong, then he is using the loyalty of the troops to further a bad cause. I want to see the mexican government get help wit the drug war.The President stated our youth are using less drugs. I would say only a supplier could make a valid statement about drug usage. This man does not know the price of gasoline. Sen. Mc Clain shoul think more why the crime rate is so high.

    March 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Karen P

    McCain had a decent record in Congress, but in this campaign he hasn't seemed to know exactly who he is. I think he's been a little to anxious to be a "party man" and do what's right for AMERICANS.

    I do believe it would be a civil honest national campaign with Obama running, but an all out horrible "war" with Clinton. Clinton would lose. The race would be close with Obama, but I think Obama can 'pull it off'. Hillary Clinton would be too easy a target for fun in that.

    I do like Obama's words first not war above McCain's Bush tactics of war and no talk. Hasn't that been the problem with Israel and Palestine for ages? Is that what we want to be like?
    This isn't the Vietnam or Cold War eras anymore...all our economies are too closely liked. It's time to change and McCain, conservatives or not, has to prove he has new ideas for a change.

    March 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Karl

    John McCain has a history of bucking the Party line. Good for him. I mean he actually has core conservative beliefs but is perfectly willing to support issues that he believes are in the best interests of the country as a whole and not just for a segment of the country that is toeing the Party line. We should be praising his independence, not deriding it.

    Most of the problems facing this country have arisen out of partisan Party affiliations and pandering to special interests, two things McCain has made a career of fighting. In this two-party system that we are stuck with, McCain is taking the only path available to him to advance his agenda. I truly believe that when John McCain is elected our next president we will finally have one who represents the interests of the 80% of us in the middle, not the 10% on the left and the 10% on the right.

    March 5, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. edmond

    mccain is going to pick rush for vp

    March 5, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  24. Allen

    Wolf, I think if we look at past Republican presidents we'll see that they haven't been big on social issues, despite using the right wing of the voters to win nominations and offices. Republicans had six good years from 2001 – 2007 to effect change on any social issue they wanted, and they failed to do anything that the right wing wants. That says to me that to Republican politicians, social issues are nothing but another rung on the ladder.
    Allen Brock
    Hartwell, GA

    March 5, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Lance

    I hope so. It looks like the Clintons will be stealing the election from Obama at the convention as their present preference is to take the low road. Even though I voted for Bill twice I will NEVER vote for her. She is an ultra-partisan, divisive politician who could never govern if she gets elected by some Republican will ever work with her. Her supporters conyinue to drink the Kool-Aid on what she promises to do. It's a fat chance with any effective Republican minority in Congress. Obama seems to be able to reach across the divide and John McCain has done it in the past. The country needs a uniter to get things back on track. John McCain doesn't need the ultra right. Millions of Democrats, such as myself, will vote for him if Obama is cheated out of the nomination.

    March 5, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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