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John McCain already moves to mollify the GOP right

Former Sen. Bob Dole, who knows a thing or three about losing elections to the Clintons, has some advice for conservative radio talk show impresario Rush Limbaugh, who's been loudly complaining about John McCain for weeks.

Dole, the GOP candidate who got erased in the 1996 election by Bill Clinton, is trying to calm down the prominent conservative who's threatening party unity with his outspoken on-air opposition to the not-so-conservative McCain, as he appears to zero in on the Republican nomination, which could be decided as early as today.

In a personal letter to Limbaugh released by the McCain campaign, Dole wisely first stroked the conservative broadcaster's broad ego, then proceeded ...

to support McCain as a true conservative. "I have not seen you in a long time," Dole wrote, "but I do hear you frequently and I know that you have serious reservations about Senator McCain."

"I worked closely with Senator McCain when he came to the Senate in 1987," Dole wrote, "until I departed (in 1996). I cannot recall a single instance when he did not support the Party on critical votes. (At my age, I cannot be entirely certain but here are a few key conservative examples:)"

Dole then lists nine major issues McCain supported. He provides some statistics showing McCain sometimes actually supported Republican presidents more and opposed Bill Clinton more than even Sen. Jesse Helms.

"I disagree with his votes against the Bush tax cuts," Dole adds, "but I believe his pledge to make them permanent and I do not agree that Governor Romney ever suggested a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq."

Dole notes that he wore a bracelet with McCain's name during the Arizonan's POW years. And he closes with, "Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support. Two terms for the Clintons are enough."

The problem for the GOP's conservative wing represented vocally by Limbaugh is that it dithered throughout 2007 awaiting the Second Coming of a Ronald Reagan, who would embody a perfect conservative fiscal, social and economic candidate. Fred Thompson flamed out with his four-hour workdays. Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson and Jim Gilmore had the collective charisma of a corpse and got no political traction.

Rudy Giuliani, the hero of 9/11, waited too long to show his stuff and then didn't have any. And Mitt Romney sounds like a genuine conservative convert now but the images of those liberal-looking YouTube videos from the 1990s linger.

Certainly, part of the blame for the party's situation falls on President Bush, who didn't help prepare a successor. He was comfortable sticking with Dick Cheney as his vice president for the second term, when he could have picked a new one in 2004 and given that VP four years to become the obvious inheritor.

Last summer there seemed no hurry for the conservatives to line up behind a favorite. McCain was clearly dead and nearly buried. But the oldest major candidate, the one who had the grit to endure some 2,000 days of solitary POW confinement and then did exactly what he said he could, he out-campaigned everyone else. Suddenly, McCain won New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

So how to unite the party behind the maverick who caused McCain-Feingold, voted against the Bush tax cuts twice, opposes Guantanamo and torture because he knows it firsthand and can't raise his arms because of it, then pushed that immigration reform that got labeled amnesty last spring?

Romney started looking better to the conservatives, but this other guy from Hope, Ark., Mike Huckabee, keeps hanging around to siphon votes from Romney and help McCain, who will need a non-Washington running mate in a few months. Maybe a Southern governor from somewhere like, oh, say Arkansas. Or Florida.

Soon, the question may be, how does McCain molify the right of his party without alienating the moderates and independents he's going to need in the general election? The letter to Rush is the start.

But first comes today's voting. Romney's fortunes in California will determine a lot. It may, in fact, be too late for the conservatives to halt the moderate McCain.

Republicans -- and the rest of us -- may know by tonight.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (37)

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The delegate numbers are not so bad for Romney at present. After trouncing Mccain in Maine he's only 7 delegates behind. Here is the delegate count that includes the superdelegates

Wow! I wish I had a former senator who lost to the Clintons making excuses for me while I hope to run against the Clintons. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. There is a reason conservative talk show hosts have big problems with McCain and it's not because of his conservative record. In fact, it's just the opposite. Look at the facts and vote conservative.

John McCain, RINO or 'Trojan Horse'. Either is appropriate!!!! Vote Conservative, Vote Romney!!!

Mitt Romney is the only conservative choice out there. He's also the only one who can turn around this economy --- which will affect our personal lives EVERY DAY. Can we, the Republican Party, afford to have a nominee that is indistinguishable from the Democrats on key issues like immigration & tax cuts? McCain would get clobbered in the general election. And Huckabee is just jabbing against Romney because he's hoping for a VP nod from McCain. What a brown-noser. If he were really in it to win it, he would be jabbing at the frontrunner --- McCain --- instead of wasting his powder on Romney. But oh yeah, Huckabee is a bigot that hates Mormons. I see.... Now it's all clear..... Come on, Republicans --- back Mitt! He's the conservative choice --- otherwise you'll put a liberal in the white house.

I am supporting senator John McCain!!!

I agree that it is too late for Romney to beat McCain, because the primary is stacked against him.

As a Reagan conservative, I will not vote in the election before I will vote for John McCain. Even if it means another Clinton in the White House, it means that Republicans will get what they deserve by turning their backs on the legacy of Ronald Reagan that made us a great party--and a great nation. Maybe if we suffer for 4 (or 8) more years under another Clinton (or Obama) debacle Republicans will wise up and vote for a true conservative again.

It seems Bob Dole is unable to distinguish Conservative from Republican. That's why, in part, he was unsuccessful as well.

In order to help Bob Dole, here are some areas McCain voted in a liberal vs conservative way that come to mind immediately -- immigration (McCain-Kennedy), McCain-Feingold, gang of 14, and Gitmo. Those are enough to convince me that McCain is happier with Dems than he is with me, and vice versa.

Not sure why Bob Dole can't see that, unless his party loyalty is blocking his vision.

what is this world coming to, but we shoud have sen it coming. BTW, anyone see Lou Dobbs last night talking with President of LaRaza? get transcript if u can. Lou Dobbs missed the point, she was talking about hate speech. he sounded like Bill o Reiley. shame on him.

I have gone from being a Republican to a conservative/Independent largely because of people like Rush Limbaugh and of course because of the abysmal record of the Bush administration as it payed homage to the right. Rush needs to wake up and recognize that something like 90% of Americans are to his left. We want solutions to serious problems not right wing neocon ideology and rhetoric. McCain gives us hope for just that ... solutions. A second thing RL needs to consider is that McCain can win against Clinton and the others cannot. Do you really want to be an observer to that parade Rush?

I will not vote for a democrat.

I will not be able to vote for Mccain.

I will be staying home in November.

LImbaugh is right. I'm a dyed in the wool Republican but if McCain gets the nomination I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. I figure she'd do less harm cavorting around the Oval Office on her knees with some stud than a libbie in sheeps clothing like McCain.

Sorry Dole, but Limbaugh is right! If it is between McCain and a Democrat, I am voting Democrat. I can't believe the Republican party will destroy itself in order to keep the mormon guy out. What a bunch of idiots!

Bob Dole is a bad choice for this, he represents another Republican "machine" candidate who was doomed to fail from the start.

Who cares what Dole says anyway?

McCain at best represents a "new" Republican party, one that is trying to become more liberal. The question is, is this move to the left because the grassroots of the party wants to go left or because the blue blood country club Republicans want to go left, or because the media machine and Washington beltway crowd wants the Republican party to go left?

Limbaugh is the voice for conservatism in this country, if the Republican party elite wants to move to the left, maybe it's time for conservatism to find a new home.

I am confused. are you not supose to report the news without bias?
I do not buy your paper for your viewpoint. I want the facts.

The Baby Boomers are not dead yet.

(Tip: This isn't the newspaper. It's a blog. We don't pretend to be objective. We are equal opportunity offenders. At some point all sides are going to be offended and cry bias, especially if they only read items about their favorite. Thanks for reading.)

Mcain is the best thing to happen to the Republican party since Ronald Reagan. Finally a moderate in office who stands behind what he really believes instead of taking a poll to decide where he stands. McCain won the primaries fair and square even in conservative Florida where he even beat Romney with voters concerned about the economy. Any Republican with reservations should remember your choices in November will be far left liberals Clinton or Obama or conservative McCain. The Republicans to the far right better get on board with McCain or be on the outs when he gets elected over inexperienced Clinton and Obama.

I'm a Reagan Republican and active within the party.

Last night Mitt Romney LITERALLY informed me that because I support John McCain I'm a "liberal." Sir, you are burning bridges with abandon.

Fight on the merits. Hyberbole will sink you.


Not even a mention of the only true fiscal conservative republican in the race? Dr. Ron Paul deserves a mention here... I'm not saying he has a chance of winning, but how can you ignore his message, his fundraising, and the passion of his supporters?

Dr. Paul has been the victim of an obscene Media Blackout since day 1– when they do give him coverage, he is the “long-shot” candidate, or the GOP “Maverick” — or any number of fringe words… that to the average voter makes it seem like he can not win.

He is the ONLY candidate that really wants to return this country to the Free Nation we once were. Reduce the Police State, reduce Government interference, restore our economy and falling currency, and protect individual liberties…no wonder the mainstream media/corporations don’t want this guy to win.

If you look on’s election center– they have pictures of every candidate remaining, EXCEPT FOR RON PAUL! They just have his name in tiny lettering under McCain and Romney— how is this legal? I encourage everyone who has any stock/shares in CNN or FAUX News to dump them immediately– maybe when those companies lose billions in market cap they will see that the American People will not tolerate their bias.

The link between Dole and McCain makes me wonder - will McCain also be doing ED commercials after losing this race?

The ultra right wing of the Republican Party can't field a viable "Reagan Like" candidate? Is that because you had full control of the reigns of government for 6 years and failed every conservative test. Pre-emtive war, huge budget deficits, cooking the books on Iraq, torture, pedophiles and gay senators in the party, an imperial vice president, spying on Americans, failed economic policies? Sorry to burst your bubble Rush, but there are things much worse than even Bill Clinton's dalliances or John McCain's flip flops. The Reagan Era is dead-killed by ignorant neo-cons like you. Live with your failures.

no vote for mccain

mccain has proven he cannot be trusted

Limbaugh has an overinflated concept of his own importance, and he is about to get a dose of Reality.

Looking forward to seeing Ann Coulter at the Hillary rallies.


As I am in the habit of researching all the candidates, I have found some extremely disturbing information regarding the character of Senator McCain and his conduct during his capture and subsequent imprisonment by the North Vietnamese. As reported by the Washington Post (June 6, 1960), by his own admission, he was treated quite well. The article sites a statement made by John McCain over Radio Hanoi. He now misstates that he was tortured, but he apparently reveled in being treated as somewhat a celebrity in Hanoi and enjoyed many perks as he granted interviews on a regular basis. As I understand it, when someone is captured they are to give only the following information: Name, Rank, Serial Number and Date of Birth. Mr. McCain gave far more information to the North Vietnamese in exchange for surgery and medical care. He even gave the name and location of the ship he was on!

I had to ask myself WHY do the POW/MIA groups despise John McCain if he was one of "them"? He was the POW Poster Boy for the U.S. most likely because he was the son of Admiral John S. McCain Jr. who was the commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific. Anyone else would have been tried for treason given the confidential information he voluntarily gave during interviews. This is a serious breach of the Code of Conduct. In a US News & World Report interview on May 14, 1973, two months after his release, McCain admitted that he exchanged military information in exchange for spending six weeks in a hospital normally reserved for North Vietnamese military officers.

I could go on. I was going to vote for Senator McCain, but after reading some 100 pages of information I’ve gathered, I’ve not only decided to withdraw my support for him, but I feel very strongly that every American should ask themselves, “Should this man be our Commander in Chief?” The U.S. Veteran Dispatch had an article in June of 1996 entitled “POW Songbird McCain Wrongly Described As A Hero”. Ask the Veterans Groups what their opinion is of John McCain and you will be shocked. He has repeatedly blocked efforts to bring home the remaining POWs citing that there was “no evidence” that they were alive after satellites picked up codes in the fields of Viet Nam that could have only been written by our soldiers. What doesn’t he want us to find out?

McCain feels he is being wrongly attacked on this front and says it is “hurtful”. But he doesn’t deny it. I don’t want THIS man with his finger on the button or anywhere NEAR the button.

Aren't there 4 GOP candidates right now?

Huckabee and Paul are each worthy of note in my opinion.

Each lesser known candidate has repeatedly outlined the shortcomings of the “Media Darlings” in McCain and Romney and been deadly accurate in pointing out that the agendas (which are surprisingly similar) of the latter two may lead to less than conservative administrations.

Each (Romney and McCain) has proven to flip-flop to align with the poll of the day and each has suspect credibility with their track records.
Each will increase the demand for tax money once faced with the fact and details of our staggering deficit spending.

I fear that the GOP has taken a path of no return in it’s selection of favorites.

The two lesser mentioned candidates offer true conservatism and moral backing than I am seeing in the “Frontrunners”. Both are willing to address the fact that our economy is faltering due to irresponsible spending, but nobody in the media wants to listen.

The bias and candidate favoritism by the media is to blame for the popularity of the current “Frontrunners” who are far from ideal candidates to oppose the democratic surge that is taking place.

Step aside GOP…the media is handing your future over to the opposition by favoring weak candidates…and there is nothing you can do about it.

Doles Comment; "Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support. Two terms for the Clintons are enough."
Is out to lunch.
The Clinton Administration put this Country on Sound Finacial Ground and the stupid replubican bush nit has run it into the ground !
Further, the Replublicans are supportive of the treason committed by the SOB BUSHNIT

It is funny how the liberal media is so bent on pushing McCain down the throats of millions of people that don't want him. If the GOP is so broken as to be swayed by the likes of the mass media, then we have little hope of winning the election this year.

Let the American people decide who they want to elect, and stop trying to tell us who its gonna be!!!

Good article. As a democrat, maybe I do want McCain as the nominee. It makes me want to cheer Rush on for weakening the Republican party.

Oh, and when using uncommon words like mollify, you ought to use spell check.

All these Repubs who are saying they'll vote for Hillary if McCain gets the nomination are just being SILLY. They're also lying, of course. Grow up, for heaven's sake.






Dan Campbell

heres a link:


"another Clinton (or Obama) debacle" This quote demonstrates why the Republican Party is in decline. You all are delusional. Let's see: eight years of Clinton = peace, prosperity, and budget surplus. Eight years of Bush = war, recession, massive deficits, assaults on the Constitution. Get real folks.

I would rather stay home than vote for McCain!

To those GOP members who are mashing their teeth and wailing at the wall, I have only one word , "Prozac" Get a life. Ronald Reagan signed a amnesty bill allowing mucho Mexicans US citizenship. He also signed one of Californias largest tax increases, not to mention beating cheeks out of Lebanon after 1 bombing of US Troops. He cheated on his wife and under his term he let the S&L industry collapse. You guys are living a fantasy.

The only thing that is striking me about any of these arguments is that many of you are treating it more like a football game than a presidential election. You want the Republican "team" to win. Having a reasonable person who will make logical decisions (i.e.- not based on extreme religious background and one-sided views) should be more of the matter of concern. McCain has the level head and the moderation that this country needs. I believe too many hardcore conservatives view him negatively because he isn't a "textbook" Republican, per se, but that's what makes him better than the others. He's the "New and Improved" Republican that this country desperately needs.

Ok, Huckster. You won West Virginia with the help of McCain's fans. For anyone interested, please google: Huckabee and ethics violations.

Rush Limbaugh -- Busted Again! You need to go take another 'pain pill'. Actually, get an illegal immigrant to get them for you. You are the biggest phony I have ever met. You have done so much harm to our party that it's about time you realize your word means nothing. McCain is the solution -- like it or not. Now, continue to attack people who have done good for our party like Dole and sink one step lower. You conservatives who say you will vote Hillary or stay home --- Pleeezzzee. Continue the lies and see how far we get.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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