- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2000

A single, overriding imperative presents itself to conservatives in this November's election: We must put an end to the destructive, morally corrosive Clinton-Gore interregnum in our nation's political life. The best hope we have of accomplishing this objective is the candidacy of Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
We conservatives cannot stand by squabbling among ourselves over degrees of ideological purity, while Al Gore retains the White House and extends the Clinton-era national nightmare for another four years. For some of my conservative brethren, who would make perfection the enemy of the good, none can ever pass the "pure enough" litmus test.
Mr. McCain is a conservative. Period. He currently occupies the seat in the United States Senate formerly held by Barry Goldwater, the political godfather of the modern conservative movement. Mr. McCain has a 17-year record of support in both the Senate and the Congress for pro-family, pro-life conservative ideals.
While campaigning for president this past year, I got to know my Republican opponents. All are good, decent and honorable men, any one of whom would make a far better president than either alternative offered by the other party. But over the course of the campaign, including several nationally televised debates, I became convinced that, if I could not win the GOP nomination, then Mr. McCain's character, experience, integrity and conservative record best qualified him to carry our party's banner in November.
The grotesque attacks on Mr. McCain's record have been astonishing. On the life issue, Mr. McCain has a solid record, reflected in a score of votes in the House and Senate, of support for the pro-life cause. The National Right to Life Committee gave him an 86 percent lifetime rating. At a rally in Michigan this week he told the crowd life begins at conception. I am personally satisfied that Mr. McCain is committed to naming a pro-life running mate, banning the horror of partial birth abortion and eventually overturning Roe vs. Wade.
On the issue of campaign-finance reform that has some of my fellow conservatives in such an uproar, some critics have conveniently forgotten that Mr. McCain's current campaign-finance reform legislation does not include restrictions on independent expenditures by outside organizations nor would I ever support legislation that did. It is because I oppose Most Favored Nation trade status for Communist China, moreover, that I support Mr. McCain's crusade against the insidious influence of the special interests. Banning soft money contributions would cut the legs out from under the powerful China lobby, a lobby that now exerts a near stranglehold over our policy toward Communist China.
China is an emerging, rapidly militarizing power that presents our country with its most serious national security challenge. Yet our policy toward China is driven almost exclusively by trade considerations due to the inordinate power read, political contributions of the China lobby.
Some Republicans are reportedly disturbed that many independent voters and even some Democrats are flocking to the McCain banner. This is precisely what makes Mr. McCain such a formidable opponent for Al Gore. Where I grew up in blue-collar, working-class Newport, Ken., everyone on my block was a Democrat. The first time my parents and their neighbors in Newport voted for a Republican, it was for Ronald Reagan, a great president for whom I had the privilege of working in the White House. With his optimistic, patriotic vision of America's greatness as a shining city on a hill, Ronald Reagan reached out to working-class voters, labor union members, pro-life Democrats, Roman Catholic and ethnic Americans. Indeed, President Reagan actually was a card-carrying member of a union.
If we Republicans are going to win back the White House and drive a stake through the heart of the Clinton-Gore era, then we will have to rebuild this broad-based Reagan coalition. Establishment Republican candidates in the last two elections won 37 percent and 40 percent of the vote respectively. When John McCain was a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton, I know that he did not spend his time thinking about America's wealth or wondering what was the latest Dow Jones average. I know that what sustained him in those dark times it was his faith in the moral ideal of America.
I know that Mr. McCain wants an America and a political system in which the voice of the average American can still be heard, a system that is not a moneybags democracy. He wants what we all want: A system built on civility, decency and honor, a system that our children once again can view with pride.
John McCain demonstrated in Vietnam that he has the right stuff, that he is a patriot and a fighter. He will carry the fight to Al Gore. He is the best shot we have of ending the corrupt, destructive Clinton era in American politics and that is why I endorsed him.

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