Reprinted from NewsMax.com
McCain Strategist: Win Over Conservative
One at a Time
Thursday, March 13, 2008 8:28 AM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
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Sen. John McCain will be spending a lot of face time in the
coming months with top conservative leaders, in an effort to win them
over one-by-one, top McCain strategist Charlie Black tells Newsmax.
“You have to go get the conservative leaders who have a following one
at a time. [McCain] has been doing for several months, and has some
very prominent conservatives on board now… We’re taking them one at a
time,” Black told Newsmax this week.
McCain’s address last weekend to a closed-door session of movement
conservatives at the Council on National Policy went better than some
had expected. “He got a good reception, a lot of applause, and a good
standing ovation at the end,” Black said. “We didn’t expect it to be
unanimous. He just wanted to reach out to the group and answer their
McCain’s comments on immigration – a hot button issue for conservatives
– were surprisingly well received, given the boos and catcalls that
greeted McCain when he raised the issue at the Conservative Political
Action Conference in Washington, DC last month.
At CPAC, McCain acknowledged that he had “failed” in his efforts at
immigration reform, and that he had heard the criticisms from the right
that any new legislation must first secure the nation’s borders.
At CNP, McCain laid out in detail his plans to secure the border with
Mexico with a mix of technologies, from a manned physical barrier to
sophisticated electronic monitoring systems and Predator drones.
“But we have to remember these are God’s children,” McCain said. “We
will handle this in a humane fashion.” He then pledged that no one who
has come into the United States illegally “will get precedence” over
someone who has come legally or who has waited legally to come into the
country, comments that were greeted with sustained applause.
Conservative strategist Morton Blackwell, a Republican national
committeeman from Virginia, acknowledged that McCain was not going to
win all conservatives to his cause. “But he can get a lot of people.
And I have made the argument that this is the smart thing for
conservatives to do.”
Blackwell told Newsmax in an interview that in addition to face-time
with conservative leaders, McCain has to make conservatives feel
included in his campaign and in a McCain administration.
“If it appears that people who until recently did not support him for
the nomination are going to be second or third class citizens in his
campaign and administration, that’s not going to work. He has to pull
into his inner circle people who did not support him for the
nomination,” Blackwell said.
Many Republican strategists believe that fear and loathing of a
left-wing Democratic nominee will help McCain to motivate the party
base to get out and roll up their sleeves.
“I think that Obama and Hillary are the great uniters of the right,”
former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich told Newsmax. “If you look at
their views and you are right-leaning, enough said. Fear works just as
well as love in politics. Fear and loathing? Absolutely.”
McCain stategist Charlie Black believes that voters will see a stark
choice between McCain and his Democrat opponent, and singled out Sen.
Obama for his left-wing views.
The changes Obama wants to make are like “going back to the 60s,” Black
said. “Big government, more spending, higher taxes, pulling back from
the world, protectionism. The last president who was protectionist was
Herbert Hoover, and how did that go?”
While change is a legitimate hope on the part of voters, “McCain has
been the biggest agent for reform in Washington since he’s been there,”
Blackwell and other strategists argued that McCain had a golden
opportunity to rebuild the type of coalition that swept Ronald Reagan
to victory in 1980 and again in 1984.
Conservatives could expect McCain to nominate federal judges who “would
be far better” than judges appointed by Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama,
Blackwell said. In addition, a President McCain would shold the line on
federal spending, support traditional values, fight compulsory
unionism, while strengthening America’s defense capabilities.
“If most conservatives do not unite to support our Republican
presidential nominee, we could have a disastrous election across the
board,” Blackwell warned. “Does anyone doubt that a party now dominated
more than ever by extreme leftist groups would do all in their power to
shut us down forever?”
Campaign strategic Charlie Black added that conservatives will be
pleased with McCain’s plans to consolidate or eliminate wasteful
federal programs, as well as his efforts to the rationalize the bloated
“He knows better than anybody how to reform the defense acquisition and
procurement process and believes he could save billions and billions of
dollars Plus there are certain defense programs that Congress has
imposed on the Pentagon he says we don’t need,” Black told Newsmax.
Nor will McCain shy away from entitlement reform, an area “where you
could save real dollars,” Black added.
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