McCain Wins Iowa and New Hampshire Endorsements

John McCain has received all the key newspaper endorsements for the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, despite being a non-factor in the polls in the former and trailing in the latter.

The Des Moines Register backed McCain despite his being in 5th place in their own polls; apparently, they’re not so much trying to influence the outcome as to go on the record.

McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership.

In an era of instant celebrity, we sometimes forget the real heroes in our midst. The defining chapter of McCain’s life came 40 years ago as a naval aviator, when he was shot down over Vietnam. The crash broke both arms and a leg. When first seeing him, a fellow prisoner recalls thinking he wouldn’t live the night. He was beaten and kept in solitary confinement, held 5 years. He could have talked. He did not. Son of a prominent Navy admiral, he could have gained early release. He refused.

The one-time playboy emerged from prison a changed, more serious man. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and the Senate in 1986, he has built an unconventional political career by taking stands based on principle, not party dogma, and frequently pursuing bipartisanship.


Time after time, McCain has stuck to his beliefs in the face of opposition from other elected leaders and the public. He has criticized crop and ethanol subsidies during two presidential campaigns in Iowa. He bucked his party and president by opposing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. A year ago, in the face of growing criticism, he staunchly supported President Bush’s decision to increase troop strength in Iraq.

In this campaign, he continues to support comprehensive immigration reform — while watching his poll standings plunge. Some other Republican candidates refuse to acknowledge that climate change is a serious threat caused by human activity. McCain has worked on the issue for seven years and sponsored bills to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

McCain would enter the White House with deep knowledge of national-security and foreign-policy issues. He knows war, something we believe would make him reluctant to start one. He’s also a fierce defender of civil liberties. As a survivor of torture, he has stood resolutely against it. He pledges to start rebuilding America’s image abroad by closing the Guantanamo prison and beginning judicial proceedings for detainees.

The Manchester Union Leader gave McCain its coveted endorsement a week ago.

Our next President should not be someone who needs on the job training when it comes to making military decisions. It should instead be someone intimate with military affairs who has a history of making sound decisions on matters of war and diplomacy. The only one who fits that description on either side of the aisle is Sen. John McCain.

Sen. McCain is much more than just a war hero who chose to endure years of abuse at the hands of a sadistic enemy rather than abandon his comrades. In his political career he has demonstrated real wisdom on foreign policy, and never more impressively than after Sept. 11, 2001.

Of all the candidates for President, it was John McCain and only John McCain who not only opposed Donald Rumsfeld’s Iraq strategy from the start but offered a viable alternative for winning that ill-fated war. When the Democrats cried “Retreat!” and other Republicans shouted “Stay the course!” McCain listened to the commanders on the ground.

He discerned the path to victory early, and only after the President finally did what McCain had urged for years did the tide begin to turn in our favor.

That is the kind of judgment America needs in the oval office.

McCain is by far the most informed candidate on military and foreign affairs. In our interviews with nearly all of the presidential candidates, only McCain offered a comprehensive and detailed strategic vision for maintaining America’s position as the world’s lone superpower.

The Boston Globe — from frontrunner Mitt Romney’s state, no less — joined suit this morning.

McCain is a conservative whose views differ from those of this editorial page in a variety of ways. He opposes abortion rights. At least in the current election cycle, he has shown no particular quarrel with his party’s knee-jerk view of tax cuts as the cure to the nation’s economic problems.

Also unlike this page, McCain has strongly supported the current war in Iraq, including the troop surge. Yet the Arizona senator has never been an uncritical booster of President Bush’s policies. Early on, he accurately predicted that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t sending enough troops to maintain order after Saddam Hussein fell. Today, he straightforwardly acknowledges the fragility of the Iraqi government and the corruption that pervades that country. He understands that US failures in Iraq, along with President Bush’s torpid response to Hurricane Katrina, have damaged the nation’s credibility abroad and at home.

McCain’s honesty has served him well on other issues. As a longtime public official from a border state, he recognizes that illegal immigration is a complex problem – for which better border control is only part of the solution. His thoughtful stance may be a tough sell politically at a time when many Republicans (and many Democrats) are anxious about the number of people living and working in the United States illegally. But his opponents’ get-tough poses are unlikely to close the gap between immigration law and immigration practice; McCain’s comprehensive approach is far more likely to bring the two back in line.

I’m not sure how much these endorsements matter, or even how much they should.

McCain has hardly campaigned in Iowa, ceding it to the better financed Romeny, and is a distant fifth in the average polling in that state: 5.8 percent to Huckabee’s 34, Romney’s 23.3, Giuliani’s 9.8, and Thompson’s 9.5. Even with the vagaries and unpredictability of the caucus system, it’s inconceivable McCain will have even a respectable showing there.

New Hampshire is another matter. He’s climbed into distant second place there, trailing Romney 32-18.5, with Giuliani close behind at 16.5. McCain’s got a long way to go between now and January 8th. Still, on October 30, when the McCain blogger relations people sent along a Paul Bedard post “McCain Plans ‘Comeback Kid’ Surge,” outlining McCain’s strategy to win the race by putting all his eggs into the Granite State basket, I scoffed, wondering if they had a Plan B. Now, winning seems at least plausibly within reach.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Len says:

    Time after time, McCain has stuck to his beliefs in the face of opposition from other elected leaders and the public.

    We’re getting rid of one obstinate, stubborn president who “follows his gut” rather than listening to the advice of the wise people who surround him. Do we really want another?

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Len, did you notice the number of people who voted for that Stubborn man for President as opposed to the number who voted for the one who seemed to represent what you and the media thought America wanted? A better question is, we survived the criminal enterprize that was the Clinton administration during the 90’s, why would you want them back?

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    So a question is if McCain gets a third place in NH, does that keep him alive long enough to benefit from Feb 5th.

    I am glad that I’m not trying to make a living picking who is going to get the nomination.

    So are you suggesting that we pick someone who voted for the war in Iraq, then when the polls changed wanted to leave before the surge showed improvement in the situation? Perhaps FDR should have declared peace and brought the troops home after Omaha beach. Lincoln should have let the south go it’s own way after the first day of Gettysburg. Forget continuing on to victory, lets be sure and pick a president that can be counted on to run away.

  4. Len says:

    Sheesh, did I say all that, yetanotherjohn? Wow, I’m good. I sure can get a lot into a few words.

    By the way, though it is an important issue and your president did blow it miserably, my whole world does not revolve around Iraq. There are Other Issues. And George W. blew his handling of those, too.

    There… more words than before. Happy now?

  5. TheHat says:

    Why is it that so many outsidethebeltway McCain articles sound so much like In Side The BeltWay thinking?