- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2010

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, said in an interview Monday that his planned primary challenge to Sen. John McCain will portray the four-term incumbent as a not-so-conservative Republican who has “enabled” President Obama and his failed economic and security policies.

“I’m giving Arizona Republicans a clear choice between a consistent, common-sense conservative … or someone who describes himself as a maverick but is a moderate,” the outspoken Mr. Hayworth told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show.

Mr. Hayworth, 51, quit his job Friday as a conservative radio host — a show he has broadcast since losing his congressional seat in 2007 — and said he is preparing to formally announce his run later this week.

While Mr. McCain has led the opposition to the president’s health-care reform, Mr. Hayworth said, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee has “enabled” Mr. Obama by supporting the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, first passed under President George W. Bush. And Mr. Cain’s opposition to using “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected terrorist detainees paved the way for Mr. Obama to order the FBI to expand legal rights and protections to suspected terrorists, Mr. Hayworth said.

“We have to live up to the conduct of the signatories of the Geneva Convention, while our Islamic fascist enemy beheads our soldiers, the ultimate torture,” Mr. Hayworth said.

While Republicans are expressing mounting optimism about their prospects in the 2010 midterm elections, Mr. McCain is one of several leading party figures who faces an intraparty challenge from the right this year.

In his third term, Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, already is facing four conservative challengers in the primary and has been targeted by the influential conservative group the Club for Growth. In Florida, national Republican party leaders strongly backed the Senate run of moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, but conservative activists in the party are flocking to former GOP state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Mr. McCain, who flaunted his independence from his own party and his reputation as a “maverick” in the 2008 race, never has been a favorite of the party’s more conservative wing.

But defeating Mr. Cain, 73, will be a difficult, considering his popularity, his name recognition in the state and his ability to raise funds. Mr. McCain also will benefit from endorsements from popular party figures such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, his 2008 running mate, and Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Early polls show Mr. Cain with a double-digit lead on Mr. Hayworth, but the GOP primary will not be held until Aug. 24.

Mr. Hayworth, 51, was elected to Congress in 1994 as part of a historic Republican landslide and is a strong advocate for border security and tougher immigration laws. He was defeated in 2006 by moderate Democrat Rep. Harry Mitchell, a former mayor of Tempe, in a year in which Democrats reclaimed control of both the House and Senate.

Mr. Hayworth’s recent attacks on Mr. McCain have sparked the senator to begin running ads that accusing Mr. Hayworth of being one of the biggest spenders during his time in Congress.

Mr. Hayworth told The Washington Times he wished Mr. McCain had shown the same passion and aggressiveness while running for president, citing Mr. McCain’s refusal to exploit racial comments by Mr. Obama’s pastor that surfaced during the campaign.

“I just wonder where that energy was in the presidential campaign, with reference to both Barack Hussein Obama and the Rev. Wright,” Mr. Hayworth said.

But, he added, he respects Mr. Cain and the primary challenge is not personal. He said he was recruited by frustrated state conservatives to make the run.

Mr. McCain “has been in Washington too long,” Mr. Hayworth said. “Arizona Republicans have asked me to step forward… . I was perfectly happy being a broadcaster.”

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