“Last time the party leaders nominated a RINO who was going to attract independents, it was John McCain and we lost.”
This last argument has been voiced again by Republican moderates as a good reason to support Romney in 2012 and of course was used by those same moderates in 2008 to garner support for McCain during the primary process.
The argument worked and McCain was initially popular with independent voters.
However, in the fall of 2008 independents fled from John McCain — some would argue because Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate scared them off, but others would say she attracted conservatives and fired up the base. The truth is both arguments are correct and the voter groups partially canceled each other out, helping to ensure Obama’s victory.
Now looking to the 2012 election, independent voters hold the key to defeating President Obama, and any Republican nominee must be somewhat mainstream to attract them or risk going down to a certain defeat.