This magazine has never before endorsed a candidate in a Republican primary. We are breaking precedent because, for the first time in recent memory, a serious Republican presidential candidate is seeking to remake his party into something other than the political arm of the privileged few. There are many issues on which we think John McCain is wrong, and even more on which he has been so vague that we cannot fully know.
Phoenix, Arizona--The outcome of Arizona's February 22 Republican primary isn't in doubt. Although George W. Bush led here last summer, home-state Senator John McCain had surged ahead even before his victory in New Hampshire. Indeed, with the latest polls showing McCain up by almost 20 points, Bush has all but conceded defeat. He has a skeletal staff in the state, and he's run ads only sporadically. Bush's Arizona campaign manager, Mike Hull, doesn't claim that his man will win--just that he'll hold McCain to a smaller-than-usual margin for a favorite son.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina--You see a lot of roadkill in South Carolina. The climate is temperate, the possums plentiful. Two-lane highways snake through miles of densely wooded countryside. I myself nearly take down a large goat as I speed along Route 378 at two o'clock in the morning. And, with each fresh carcass my headlights illuminate, I'm reminded of George W. Bush's desperate hope that John McCain's presidential aspirations will wind up in a similar condition-- flattened and forgotten along some dark back road of the Palmetto State.These are trying times for W.
The phone startled Suzette Latsko. She had worked the night shift at the hotel and was at home napping when it rang. The woman on the other end said she was conducting a poll on the upcoming South Carolina primary and wanted to ask a few questions. Latsko, who is working toward a degree in political science at the College of Charleston, perked up. "Go ahead," she said. At first, as Latsko tells the story, the questions were generic: How much attention had Latsko been paying to the GOP campaign? Did she agree with the way the country was being run? But then the questions changed.
Supporters and opponents of campaign finance reform agree on little except for this: the compromise that the Supreme Court imposed on the nation 24 years ago in Buckley v. Valeo has collapsed. In Buckley, the Court held that Congress could regulate political contributions--that is, the money people donate to candidates--but not political expenditures--that is, the money candidates spend on themselves. The theory was that giving money to a candidate is not really a form of expression, while spending money to win an election is.