Some pundits have wondered why John McCain continues to make overtures to the right in this campaign, when the usual strategy for a general election candidate is to focus on the center, as Barack Obama is doing today by embracing the sort of faith-based outreach championed by President Bush.
The answer for McCain is obvious — there’s not much more room to move to the left. At this point, if being the chief Republican sponsor of immigration, global warming and campaign finance legislation, as well as an original opponent of Bush’s tax cuts, isn’t enough, there’s not much he can do, short of dropping his support for free trade and the war in Iraq. And those are two lines he’s said he won’t cross.
McCain is now left with a very different task than Obama. He must work to maintain his centrist credentials while not scaring away his right. That’s why he’s spent the last week arguing his bipartisan credentials versus Obama’s record.
As this blog noted last week, it’s led McCain to the curious position of defining bipartisanship as irking your own party.
Of course McCain’s advisors don’t believe the right is going anywhere, particularly as long as McCain continues to talk about appointing conservative judges to the federal bench.
— Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times