Tom Kean Endorsing John McCain

John McCain has picked up another major endorsement: former New Jersey Governor and 9/11 Commission co-chairman Tom Kean.

Tom Kean Endorsing John McCain Photo Thomas H. Kean, who chaired the 9/11 Commission, will endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president on Monday as part of a high-stakes new push by the campaign to focus voters on national security, campaign sources tell Politico.

Kean’s name became synonymous with national security issues during heavy news coverage of the commission’s report in 2004. Kean will help McCain make the case to voters in New Hampshire, his must-win state, that strength on national security encompasses a lot more than the divisive issue of Iraq, the sources said.


McCain’s dilemma has been that conservative voters have been peeved with him about his push for balanced immigration reform, and independents and moderates have been distrustful because of his support for President Bush on Iraq. Now, the campaign has a plan to try to transcend those polarizing issues. The adviser said Kean “underscores McCain’s greatest strength,” both because of the former governor’s national security credentials, and because Kean is “a Republican who wasn’t afraid to talk back to Bush.”

Kean’s endorsement is unlikely to sway a lot of votes, especially in New Hampshire, where voters feel entitled to have breakfast with their candidate of choice at least three or four times before making up their mind.

What this does seem to indicate, though, is that major political players think McCain still has a legitimate shot at winning the nomination. Politicians wouldn’t stick their necks out, risking alienating the other candidates, otherwise.

Two or three months ago, McCain’s doubling down on the Iraq War and national security policy in general would have seemed foolhardy. Those were obvious losing issues even with Republican voters. A recent spate of relatively good news on the security front in Iraq, though, has revived that as an issue.

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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.