Yet another reason to find the Enzi/Cheney race fascinating. Tough call here for Maverick. Does he strike a blow for incumbency by backing his pal Mike, even though it means siding with “wacko bird” nemesis, Rand Paul? Or does he strike a blow for interventionism by endorsing the tea-party favorite Cheney? Here’s the answer, via the Corner. McCain endorsing anyone named “Cheney” at this point was a long shot, incumbent opponent or no. He’s been at odds with Dick sporadically for at least 10 years, dating back to the Bush tax cuts, then to the debate over enhanced interrogation, and then to Cheney’s criticism of him after leaving office for his VP pick and his bizarre political strategy during the 2008 financial crisis. (Cheney wasn’t above publicly knocking McCain in the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign either.) Liz Cheney actually took McCain’s side last year after her father called Palin’s VP selection a mistake, a shrewd move for an aspiring Senate candidate planning to run as a tea partier in a red state. That plus super-hawkishness, and still — Maverick’s unambiguously for Enzi here.
Even so, is she better off having McCain on the other side? Just as Rubio’s polling with GOPers nationally remains fairly strong even though it’s gone into the toilet among many grassroots righties, Maverick might be seen as a respected elder statesman by Wyoming Republicans who don’t follow politics closely even though the national base rants about him daily. (He carried the state by more than 30 points in 2008, although any GOP nominee would have.) Then again, how often do “incumbent backs incumbent” endorsements really matter to the incumbent? I think this helps Cheney on balance because she needs tea-party cred and there’s no faster route to that these days than ending up crosswise with the base’s least favorite Republican. He’s spent the last six months arm-in-arm with Chuck Schumer on immigration; he’s dumped on Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, both of whom are favorites of grassroots conservatives; and he’s ended up aligned repeatedly with Obama on subjects as varied as amnesty, intervention in Syria, the terrible filibuster deal last week, and “stand your ground” laws. (Cheney told the Daily Caller recently that she would have voted against the Gang of Eight bill. Enzi did, in fact, vote against it.) If she’s looking to squeeze rank-and-file conservatives nationwide for donations, she should add an “Opposed by John McCain” graphic to her campaign website.
Two clips below, one of McCain yesterday and the other a golden oldie from 2008. I wonder if he remembers.