The Washington Post

Romney and McCain an ‘odd’ couple in New Hampshire

Something strikes me as a bit odd about Sen. John McCain’s endorsement of Mitt Romney.I mean, I get why the former Massachusetts governor wanted the backing of the Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee (and former rival). It’s the political equivalent of the old Miss America handing over the crown to the new one. In the GOP, the fella who failed to get the nomination the last time usually ends up getting it the next time around. That’s what happened to McCain. And Romney is hoping this will happen to him in Tampa in August.

But we have to keep something in mind: McCain was viewed with as much suspicion by conservatives 2008 as Romney is today. When the late Robert Novak reported that McCain was considering selecting close friend Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the Democrats’s 2000 vice presidential nominee, or former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), the base went nuts. Even Karl Rove got involved.

We all know what happened next. A first-term governor of Alaska who was unknown the larger political world but who was a darling of the right was tapped to save McCain’s bacon. It was one heckuva hail Mary pass. As I wrote on the day of her selection “that McCain is still trying to get a deeply skeptical base to love him on the eve of his nominating convention spells trouble.”

Romney’s trouble with conservatives this election cycle is an issue. They don’t see him as one of theirs, which is why today’s Manchester lovefest strikes me odd. As “Fixistas” told “The Fix” today, “McCain’s endorsement of Romney could do more harm than good.” Since Romney is expected to walk away with the Granite State vote next Tuesday, the McCain nod only serves to “reinforce the idea that the former Massachusetts governor is the moderate in the field, the sensible centrist with an uneasy relationship with the party’s base.”

While McCain’s endorsement is necessary, it could have waited until Romney was well on his way to securing the nomination. When you “win” by eight votes over a guy who was the choice of those for whom abortion was the deciding issue, you should leave nothing to chance.  

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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