McCain: I’m not sure who I’d support in a “Hillary versus Rand Paul” race

posted at 11:01 am on July 31, 2013 by Allahpundit

I’d love to write a post here explaining why I think Maverick’s likely to cross the aisle in this scenario. Problem is, I’ve already written it. Click that last link if you missed it the first time through.

IC: Given that you think things are out of control, what do you make of Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state?

JM: I think she did a fine job. She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world. I do think it is interesting that the issues where John Kerry is engaging is where Hillary Clinton did not engage in, that those decisions were left to the White House and the National Security Council…

IC: I want to talk about the Senate. It seems to me that the GOP leadership has been frozen by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

JM: I am not sure if it has been frozen, but certainly there is an element in the party that has been there prior to [World War II], the isolationist, America-Firsters. Prior to World War I, it was Western senators, and then Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and then Taft versus Eisenhower. Even Reagan—Reagan’s presidency was perfect without ever a problem [said sarcastically]—there was an isolationist wing that fought against Reagan. And now the bad economy has exacerbated what has always been out there…

IC: When Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul occurs in 2016, I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?

JM: It’s gonna be a tough choice [laughs].

It’s not really a tough choice for him. He’s obviously not going to vote for a guy whom he regards as the ideological heir to Charles Lindbergh instead of the “rock star” Democratic hawk with whom he’s personal friends. His partnership with Joe Lieberman is proof enough that the cause of hawkish foreign policy trumps party ID for McCain. And since I wrote my last post on this subject back in May, he’s grown closer to the White House — so much so that Obama’s deputized him and Lindsey Graham to be the White House’s messengers to Egypt on holding new elections. The only complicating factor here that I can see is McCain’s Senate seat coming up in 2016. If Paul’s the nominee, as unlikely as that is, Maverick will have a hell of a tough time getting reelected in a red state after endorsing the Democrat for president. Going all in for Hillary means, realistically, that this would be his last term, which is good news for McCain-haters but not so good in the sense that it’ll free him up for the next three years to be the Democratic-leaning Maverick he longs to be. If you think he’s bathing in Strange New Respect from the media now, wait until he endorses Hillary. I think McCain would relish that, in fact; better to retire in 2016 with a secure legacy of “statesmanship” from having supported the press’s favored nominee than lose his reelection bid or endorse a Republican nominee he loathes.

The question isn’t whether McCain would endorse Hillary, it’s how many other hawks would endorse her or at least sit out in protest of Paul’s nomination. Not many, I think. Paul knows he has a problem here potentially so he’ll be picking his spots over the next two years to find a hawkish cause or two that he can embrace. That’ll give most conservatives comfort. Super-hawks like McCain and Graham will oppose him, but few voters are so focused on foreign policy that it’ll be a dealbreaker for them in a nominee. Plus, Hillary (or whoever the Democratic nominee is) will be under pressure from the left to moderate her/his own hawkish tendencies as a partial rebuke to Obama’s policies. Is a conservative leery of Paul on this one issue going to pull the lever for her when she’ll be out there on the trail politely criticizing O on drones, keeping Gitmo open, etc? Paul’s bigger problem on the right will be perceptions that he can’t get elected, which is apt to cost him key votes in the primary. In that sense he’s the mirror image of his new nemesis Christie, a guy who’s supposedly rolling in electability but who’ll have a problem with conservatives staying home in the general if he’s nominated. In lieu of an exit question, via RCP, listen to Mark Levin’s take on that yesterday on Cavuto.

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