- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The last full day of campaigning is over, and the fate of the next president of the United States is in the hands of voters.

The calculations of most national and state-by-state polls show Barack Obama with leads substantial enough among committed voters to win the Electoral College. Yet 5 percent of voters remained undecided.

Most voters listened to the candidates and sifted through the punditry and blogosphere before making up their minds. The Washington Times certainly did so before endorsing Mr. McCain on Oct. 28. The endorsement considered not merely Mr. McCain’s experience (and Barack Obama’s lack thereof), but the Arizona senator’s positions on issues that touch all Americans - from abortion and judicial nominations to taxes and spending and from gun rights and the power of labor unions to the ongoing war on terror.

As ballots are cast today - and we urge voters to execute their right to vote - we remind readers whom we endorsed and why.

We do not hold Mr. Obama’s lack of national experience against him. What concerns us is the kind of experience that Mr. Obama has had. Throughout his adult life, he has sat at a law-professor’s desk or a committee table. Never has the mantle of responsibility weighed on his shoulders alone. Is he ready to lead when people or events turn against him and he alone must decide among a cacophony of advice?

By contrast, Mr. McCain commanded Navy pilots amid the boom of enemy guns and, as a prisoner, suffered five years of torture and trial that would wreck a lesser man. As a leader, he has bucked president and party while reaching out to old enemies.

Each candidate’s pitch speaks volumes in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. While Mr. Obama continues to repackage his stump speeches, Mr. McCain offers a heart-to-heart.

In “The Change We Need” Mr. Obama concludes: “So … I ask you to write our nation’s next chapter. I ask you to believe - not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours … you can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. If you give me your vote, we won’t just win this election - together, we will change this country and the world.”

Mr. McCain concludes: “I believe that America is an exceptional country, one that demands exceptional leadership. After the difficulties of the last eight years, Americans are hungry for change and they deserve it. My career has been dedicated to the security and prosperity of America and that of every nation that seeks to live in freedom. It’s time to get our country, and our world, back on track.”

Not all Republicans stand with Mr. McCain. Yet that is a testament to his independence and his republicanism.

Regarding the U.S. Senate, there are 35 seats in play - chief among them the seat in Virginia held by a retiring Republican.

Sen. John Warner has served in the Senate since 1979. Two former Virginia governors want to replace him: Mark Warner (no relation to the retiring senator), a businessman and Democrat; and Republican Jim Gilmore.

Mr. Gilmore opposed Washington’s financial bailout (which The Times opposed), and he opposes deadlines for troop withdrawals from Iraq. He supports making the federal 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, and he favors off-shore drilling.

Regarding Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, Andy Harris, a Republican, serves in the General Assembly because Marylanders decided they no longer wanted a moderate Republican. He favors increased U.S. production of oil and natural gas and limited government. Mr. Harris also is a noted obstetric anesthesiologist who practices at Johns Hopkins Hospital. When the 111st Congress and the new administration begin deliberating and debating health-care issues, it is Dr. Harris who will be needed to diagnose the ills of socialized medicine.

In D.C., one of the first things supporters and critics of Michael Brown say is that he is the son of the late Ron Brown - the Clinton adviser who lost his life in an overseas plane crash. What his critics won’t volunteer is that while Mr. Brown is as wedded to some liberal policies as everyone else of consequence in City Hall, what Mr. Brown is not wedded to is moving in lock-step with Mayor Adrian Fenty. Mr. Brown is running as an independent in the at-large council race - and an “independent” voice is definitely needed in City Hall.

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