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"The people who know him like him least"

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 16, 2008 11:52 PM

There are more signs of trouble for John McCain in his home state. So far, Beltway insiders have laughed off grass-roots conservative opposition to The Maaaverick. Might as well call them typical small-town people who cling bitterly to the quaint idea of the rule of law. Or you could just do as Lindsey Graham does and dismiss them as “bigots.” Whatever McCain and his people call them, they are not going away:

Sen. John McCain’s status as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has done little to ease the criticism that he faces from a small but vocal group of conservatives in his home state.

A week ago, Republican activists living in the same state legislative district as the senator rejected nearly all the names that his campaign submitted as candidates to become delegates to the party’s state convention on May 10.

Six people on the McCain slate did eventually become delegates, but were able to do so only because they had their feet in more than one camp, said Rob Haney, the Republican chairman of the district and McCain’s most prominent critic in Arizona.

“The people who know him like him the least. He is a media darling, so the general population doesn’t know his record – and conservatives do,” Haney said, though noting that he doesn’t believe that the development could derail his campaign.

The small group of conservatives have dogged McCain since he first ran for Congress in 1982. Their objections include his views on illegal immigration, campaign finance reform and abortion. They rallied around him during the “Keating 5” scandal but were turned off by his moderate positions in the 2000 presidential race.

While the group has been a nagging and sometimes embarrassing problem, McCain remains strong in Arizona. The latest polls show McCain has a sizable lead in Arizona in matchups against either of his two Democratic rivals.

State delegates will meet in Mesa on May 10 to pick Arizona’s 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention.

A McCain spokesman said he’s confident Arizona will be theirs in November.

How? By pandering to Hispanics, of course:

Arizona Senator John McCain cites his standing with his state’s Hispanics as proof that he is a different kind of Republican, distinct from the illegal- immigration foes who dominate the party. He vows to campaign in the barrios, gunning for the 70 percent Latino support he won in his last senatorial election.

That’s precisely what worries anti-immigration Republicans, who say the party’s base will stay at home if it detects the kind of mariachi politics that President George W. Bush practiced to win more than 40 percent of Latino voters in 2004.

If McCain “panders for the Hispanic vote, politically, he’ll kill himself and he’ll kill us,” said Arizona state Representative Russell Pearce, a Republican who is leading a effort to revoke business licenses of employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. “There are more votes in my approach than his.”

McCain, 71, plans to test that theory. He may be the one Republican in a position to do so. After a divisive immigration debate in 2006, Republican candidates in that year’s mid-term elections only received 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, down more than 10 points from 2004, according to exit polls.


Seeing Red AZ reported more than a week ago:

John McCain’s slate for important state convention delegates, was unable to muster the necessary votes to win in his own home district.

His list included three GOP precinct committeemen who had endorsed Democrat Janet Napolitano for governor and whose names appeared on the pro-abortion WISH List: Sharon Harper, Kahryn Nix and Brenda Sperduti.

The election loss dealt an embarrassing blow to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Along with the cookies, cupcakes and McCain lapel stickers, a “Recommended McCain Delegates to State Convention,” list printed on McCain’s letterhead was distributed to committeemen entering the meeting. Previously, letters were mailed and follow-up phone calls made, to ensure support for McCain’s hand-picked slate.

Hopefully McCain will have better luck at the national convention.

Posted in: John McCain

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