Is John McCain the Next Ronald Reagan?
Patrick Hynes, who I’m relieved to see isn’t one of the McCain staffers let go yesterday, sends along a David Brody piece entitled, “Is John McCain the Next Ronald Reagan?” He cites a 1979 AP story about Reagan’s fundraising woes and a 1980 WaPo piece noting that “Reagan had to overcome doubts about his age and ability, an ill-advised Iowa strategy, a major staff shake-up in the middle of the campaign and serious money problems” to win the GOP nomination.
The problem, though, is not so much that John McCain isn’t Ronald Reagan (although, I should hasten to add, he isn’t) but that this isn’t 1979. The hyper-frontloaded primary schedule now in place makes catching up much harder. And McCain isn’t just trailing Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in the polls and Giuliani and Mitt Romney in fundraising: he’s trailing all three in most of the early states. He’s got an incredible amount of ground to make up.
Further, while McCain has grown on me substantially vis-a-vis Giuliani and I have yet to take Romney or Thompson seriously as presidential prospects, it’s hard for me to see a path for his resurgence. He started off unpopular with the hard right and his attempts to curry favor with Pat Robertson and company have alienated the moderates.
He’s courageously leading on immigration and the Iraq War, taking hard stands despite the polls. That’s admirable. On the other hand, championing incredibly unpopular issues months before the ballots are cast is not likely to win many votes.