This time, a quick consensus

Editorial Page Editor
THIS TIME eight years ago, The State’s editorial board faced a choice in the S.C. Republican primary between a visionary, “maverick” lawmaker with an inspiring resume and a governor who said he’d take the CEO approach, delegating the vision to the team he would build. We chose the self-described executive type, much to our later regret.
    This time, we’re going with the hero.
    Our board — Publisher Henry Haitz; Associate Editors Warren Bolton, Cindi Scoppe and Mike Fitts; and I — sat down Friday morning and deliberated for about 90 minutes before emerging with a clear and unequivocal consensus: We like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee a lot, but we have no doubt that Sen. John McCain is better-prepared to be our commander in chief.
    As our lead editor on national affairs, Mike framed the discussion, speaking at length about each of the Republicans. As others joined in, it quickly became apparent that each of us had reached very similar conclusions.
    You may not think that’s remarkable, but it is. Ours is a diverse group, and we struggled through remarkably grueling disagreements over presidential primary endorsements in the Republican and Democratic contests in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Those debates led to outcomes that some of us were never happy with. This time was very different.
    Mike spoke for everyone when he said Ron Paul was running in the wrong party; he had been a far better fit as the Libertarian nominee in 1988.
    Fred Thompson’s campaign peaked before it actually began, and never had much appeal. His candidacy still seems to lack a reason for being, although Warren suggested one: In the Myrtle Beach debate Thursday night, Mr. Thompson seemed to be “carrying water” for his friend John McCain, with his unrelenting attacks on Mr. Huckabee.
    While Rudy Giuliani makes the case that being “out of line culturally” with S.C. Republicans should not be a deal killer, he’s not so convincing that he’s the guy to lead the country in a dangerous and volatile time. Beyond his constant refrain of “9/11,” he doesn’t articulate what he would offer that the others would not. Mike, who is much troubled by the Bush record on civil liberties, worried that the former prosecutor would actually be worse.
    Mike was sorry Mitt Romney never came in for an interview, because he had “heard so many different things about him.” Of course, the “different things” came from the candidate himself, who has reinvented himself on issue after issue in his effort to find a stance that sells. So how can he be trusted to lead? Cindi observed, and I strongly agreed, that Mr. Romney’s great mistake was not running on his solid record as governor, particularly health care reform. He ran from it instead, suggesting contempt both for GOP voters and for the people who had elected him governor.
    Mike Huckabee made a very good impression in his meeting with us, back when almost no one thought he had a chance. We particularly liked his lack of fear of the more virulent government-hating element in the GOP — he had been unashamed to govern in Arkansas. He has the best grasp of the nation’s health crisis among the Republicans, and the greatest ability to communicate. We don’t like his “flat tax” or his vague protectionist notions, and he’s very weak on national security. That last point is his biggest drawback. His “gates of hell” bluster about the Iranian gunboats Thursday struck a jarringly false note, and it’s not what we’d want a president to say.
    John McCain has no such need to prove his toughness, so he’s comfortable speaking more reasonably. His understanding of America’s role in the world greatly exceeds that of his rivals (and of the current administration). He will always fight for what he believes in, but will not dismiss those who disagree. He’s never been an executive (in civilian life), but he’s a leader, which is better. Henry, the only businessman in the group, said the economy and health care are important, “But Iraq and foreign affairs are still the top concern,” and no one is better suited to address them.
    Warren demurred, especially with regard to Iraq: “I don’t think we ought to be there.” But while he disagrees with the senator (and me) on that, he respects and appreciates his military record, his willingness to work across party lines and his integrity.
    Henry’s one concern about Sen. McCain was his age. The rest of us were less worried — he seems unfazed by the strain of campaigning. But we agreed that should be a consideration in his choice of a running mate.
    Before we broke up, we agreed that the two leading (in the polls, and in our estimation) Republican candidates were preferable to either party’s nominee in 2004. Americans deserve a choice, at long last, between “good” and “better,” rather than being forced to settle for “sad” or “worse.”
    In a few days, our board will convene again to decide whom to endorse in the Democratic primary. I don’t know where we’ll end up on that; we have yet to meet with the major candidates.
    But however that comes out, we feel very good about the growing likelihood that one of the candidates on the ballot in November will be John McCain.

To read our endorsement, click here. To see video about the endorsement, click here.

25 thoughts on “This time, a quick consensus

  1. Mike

    Though I don’t agree with Ron Paul’s foreign policy I think he is the most conservative when it comes to everything else.

  2. Bob

    I do not understand how Ron Paul is not considered a Republican. He’s is the most fiscally conservative candidate out there and he’s running on Bush’s 2000 foreign policy. He’s also been elected 10 times as a Republican. If we do not quit our overseas ventures soon, we will be force to leave due to the pending economic collapse. We cannot afford our empire. We have negative $9 trillion and the Canadian Dollar is worth more than ours. Ron Paul is the only candidate telling people the truth. Please join me in voting for Dr. Paul.

  3. John Soppes

    Ron Paul is the only conservative I see running in 2008. Ron brings up a good point when he says we can’t afford our current foreign policy. I believe he is correct when he says we can change our foreign policy in a controlled manner or we can change it once a financial crisis hits us. I choose the former. People talk about national defense alot but Ron knows that at any moment China or our other foreign creditors could pull the plug on our credit and cause us GREAT harm. Ron may not be the “Great Communicator” but he certainly has the correct message. I think history will look kindly on Ron Paul but it will not look so kindly on those who dismissed his message and stood by as our country went bankrupt.

  4. G man

    No I think the neocons in the Republican party are the ones out of step not Ron Paul. Why do you think it has shrunk so much. Fox and the mainline Republican Party seems very fascist, everything is about rights of big corporations. The way all the canadates try to brand themselves with Ronald Reagan is a joke. Isn’t his CIA the one who gave money to OBL?

  5. GM Ellis

    I am a huge fan of Sen. McCain, and I believe he is a true American hero. But he lost my support for President when he proposed his immigration “reform” bill.
    Fred Thompson is the only real conservative running. He is a federalist and believes in limited government. He supports the 2nd Amendment and the rest of the Constitution. He understands economics and why the American people should be deciding how to spend their money, not having Washington spend it for them. He is strong on national defense and understand the threat caused by global terrorism. He is pro-life and always has been.
    Fred Thompson is the conservative choice, hands down!

  6. Larry E. Creel

    I was a McCain guy back in 2000. But,then Ralph Reed and Mr. Bush’s dirt soldiers spread those various lies about John and his family during the South Carolina primary. And then, after a brief while John embraced Bush on the stage of the convention, I became distrubed. How could John support a man that slandered his family? I understand “that’s politics” but what Bush did to John in South Carolina was way over the top. Where did John’s sense of honor go? He should have knocked Bush off of the convention stage. To me “honor” is kind of like “pregnant”, either you have it are you don’t. Where did John’s sense of honor go in 2000? Exactly where is it now?

  7. bud

    From every political viewpoint, from the New Hampshire Union Leader to the The Boston Globe, a dispassionate examination of the available facts always leads to McCain.
    Oh really? How does McCain’s support for continued imperialistic occupation of Iraq support the real world reality that this makes us somehow better? It is simply not something a liberal can support. And how about health care? Again, a liberal cannot support the big business approach pushed by all the major Republican candidates, especially McCain.
    And what good libertarian could ever support McCain? His views on Iraq and immigration run counter to anything even a moderate libertarian could ever support.
    And how about a populist? McCain has never articulated any policies that would help the down-trodden in this country the way others have.
    No, McCain is pretty much just another GOP hack who supports big pharma, big insurance, a huge military that is frequently mis-used, tax cuts for the wealthy and all the other right-wing causes. These policies have failed us over the past 7+ years and liberals, libertarians and populists alike reject these discredited ideas. To suggest a dispationate appraisal from any political perspective leads to support of Senator McCain is simply not a claim that is intellectual honest.

  8. Ronald Abrams

    Get your facts straight! A federalist is for more centalised government! Alexander Hamilton was one of the first well known federalists. He advocated a cenral government bank. Fred Thompson may be a federalist,too. I just don’t know. However I do know that ole Fred is an actor and not a statesman. Ron Paul is our only hope to break up this federalist empire before the country breaks apart!

  9. slugger

    It’s not just about Iraq and Afghanistan. As freshly demonstrated by the incident involving U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz last week and the assassination earlier of the opposition leader in the world’s most volatile democracy (which possesses nuclear weapons, and shelters Osama bin Laden), our commander in chief will need a far broader and deeper understanding of our relationship to the world than on-the-job training can adequately provide.
    Clearly, the best Republican candidate to lead our nation at this time is U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He has the necessary experience, not just in time served, but in the quality of understanding he exhibits across the board.
    Thank you Brad for the above that was taken from your article endorsing McCain.
    There are certainly things to like and not like about all the candidates running in both parties. You just have to weigh the good things against those that you do not like and come up with what is best about the candidate and what will he DO once elected to correct the Big Three issues of today. ECONOMY. IMMIGRATION. TERRIORISM.

  10. weldon VII

    John McCain just another GOP hack, Bud?
    Meaning just another GOP politician from a small clique that controls the GOP for private rather than public ends?
    How could he be a hack and still have one foot on each side of the aisle?
    Lieberman would endorse a GOP hack?
    I think not. McCain isn’t my favorite candidate, but he’s no hack.

  11. bud

    Evidence that John McCain is a GOP Hack:
    1. He endorses the failed stay-the-course policy in Iraq, even going so far as to say we should stay 100 years.
    2. After voting against tax cuts for the wealthy he embraces them.
    3. After supporting the Bush immigration plan he switched his thinking once it became apparent that the GOP rank and file opposed it. He now wants to build the fence first.
    4. He flipped and flopped all over the place on the Confederate flag controversy.
    5. He cozied up to the leader of the GOP even though this man smeared him.
    6. He failed to call Bush down on his anti-torture bill signing statement.
    7. He laughed and said “good question” when a hateful woman shamefully called Hillary Clinton a “bitch”.

  12. Doug Ross

    What happened to your fight to fix the healthcare system of America? McCain’s view doesn’t even come close to yours.
    The War On Terror 2.0 is all that matters.
    We can’t take care of the problems in our own country, but we need to be all over the world solving their problems.

  13. mike

    Arizona Republic 10-3-99:
    “In recent years, he’s become a champion of campaign-finance reform. More than a decade ago, he took free trips to the Bahamas with savings and loan tycoon Charles Keating. He continues to take big money from interests before his committees.”
    “He’s amassed a rogues’ gallery of troublemaking former pals – Keating, Gary Hart, John Tower, Fife Symington, Duke Tully – who hardly square with his ambitions as a reformer.”
    “He prides himself on his personal integrity yet admits he wasn’t faithful to his first wife, Carol, who was injured in a horrific car accident while McCain was in Vietnam.”
    “While at the Naval Academy, McCain let some subjects slide, spending his time reading history and literature and, of course, howling at the moon. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class.”

  14. mike

    McCain says he understands the border problem better than anyone becaues he comes from a border state.
    So if thats true than why hasn’t he fixed it?
    When he had a chance to fix it, all he came up with was a backdoor deal with kennedy. The most liberal dirtbag in the senate, and guess what? The plan failed to address border security.
    If you care about the security and the sovereignty of your America then you cannot possibly vote for McCain.

  15. Van

    Wait a minute… he couldn’t stop the drug traffickers and illegals coming across his state border all these years, but Brad thinks he is the best on national security?
    Uhh… c’mon.

  16. Kent Coleman, Ohio

    Once again,you guys are a dying bread. YOu ay use new technology but still are the liberal thinking machine. You just don’t like that Fred Thompson doesn’t think you are that relevent with his campaign strategy. If you would leave your office long enough to get on the campaign trail you would see that your candidate is no even in your state campaigning for your voters. Fred Thompson is. He is more of a principled person than McCain. You will eat crow next week. As goes your candidate to defeat,will go your relevance. Another set of liberal dinasours bite the dust.

  17. Joe Red

    You know Doug Russ,
    I’ve heard many stupid arguments against McCain, but the fact that his high school grades were not top notch definitely takes the cake!
    Yes, McCain is human. When he was a young man in the military, he drank and partied with his buddies and dated a stripper. Which didn’t prevent him from being a top-notch pilot. After a 6-year separation from his wife (he was tied up at the moment) he did not feel the same affection when they reunited and had an affair – to which he later admitted and did not blame anyone but himself. Yep – definitely not a Rom-bot.
    But he also served his country most honorably for over 20 years. Not a single earmark requested while he was in the Senate. Working across the aisle on important issues – from campaign-finance reform to security. Exposed Jack Abramoff. On the record from 2003 demanding troop increase – when it was unpopular at the time. His son is now serving in the marines in Iraq, so McCain’s calls for “staying the course” are not without consideration for our troops’ lives. And that’s just his Washington record – I’m not even talking about his character or heroism during Vietnam war.
    So, what were we talking about? Ah yes, John McCain’s highschool records…

  18. Liro

    Back in 2000 I saw Mc.Cain for the first time on TV and immediately thought “hey! This guy has the REAL leadership quality!” I hadn’t a clue who he actually was.
    When he was asked about the confederate flag he said each State should settle that issue for itself….very savvy.
    BUT THEN…later on he said “it must come down”…aha!The Great Leader-Type quailed and faltered, fumbled the pass…I lost trust in his adamantine integrity.
    Sure he would probably make an internationally respected President…don’t know how much actual STATESMANSHIP he can display…would he be all about nuking opponents?

  19. David P. McKnight

    We’re also looking forward to reading what The State has to say editorially about the Democratic primary in South Carolina.
    That is one campaign that folks like me from Charlotte, N.C., always enjoy following because so many Democrats in North Carolina say that our city is “too close to South Carolina” to be considered an important contributor to North Carolina politics.
    So South Carolina native and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is one candidate who has these bases covered for us if we may be permitted a baseball analogy. He’s from South Carolina originally, so the pundits in Raleigh, N.C., have to respect that bioghraphical fact, and he served one term in the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, so they have to at least grant him that.
    You can understand then that while John Edwards has been talking occasionally about “Two Americas,” we your neighbors to the north have been wondering if we must also come to terms with this mystifying “Two Carolinas” outlook in our state capital of Raleigh.
    Perhaps if we were to spend some time in Spartanburg or Darlington, the wags in our otherwise kindhearted city of Raleigh would show us a little more respect. Meanwhile, the Edwards campaign should consider opening a regional office in Columbia for the rest of the campaign.

  20. Margaret

    If you think McCain is liberal – that’s an indication you’ve moved farrrr rrrright.
    Just the way Fox News likes it.
    The Repubs lost Congress in 06 because they’d moved so farrr right.
    Our entire family is voting for John Edwards – even the Republicans.

  21. Liro

    Confederate flag issue: I was disappointed in McCain because he first seemed to direct adults to use the existing civic tools of democracy to settle a contentious issue within their own time frame…good leadership.
    Then he caved to the schoolhouse “he said/she said” childish pettiness.
    This kind of pontificating disempowers the parties concerned, deprives them of the opportunity to exercise rational judgement, and leaves resentment to fester.
    Historically one subtext of the flag issue involves how much autonomy a State can rightly expect from Federal OverLordism. Are citizens to be allowed to debate resolution of their problems with elected representatives? Or… not?

  22. Judy

    It is a shame that you didn’t even consider Duncan Hunter. You stated that the Americans deserve a choice, but you are not following that when you don’t even mention Hunter. He is clearly the best choice and the most consistent conservative of all the candidates. He is also a hero. He dropped out of school to serve in the Army during Vietnam. McCain isn’t the only veteran. You don’t even have him listed under the “Candidate Profiles” under your elections coverage. How are Americans supposed to make an informative choice when you aren’t even fully disclosing the information?

  23. James Buie

    I don’t think the flag issue or the iraq war is the key issue right now for America. Yes, the flag is important to South Carolina and yes we need to protect ourselves against terrorism but what about America? The economy is failing, people need jobs to feed their families. The economy is the biggest issue right now, and I think Mitt Romney is the best person qualified for changing America. He has more economic experience than anyone else. 6th percent of South Carolinians are jobless right now. Which candidate is going to help South Carolina the best. Is it going to be a war veteran or a baptist preacher? No. They have ideals of the common man but lack experience in the financial sector. Michigan believed in Romney that he can help, and I hope South Carolina does too.

  24. Janice Kraft Harper

    Is Fred Thompson a Lackey for John McCain? The Suspicious Senate Connection!!!
    So why did Fred Thompson REALLY enter the presidential race???
    Could it be to siphon conservative pro-Life voters away from the REAL pro-Life conservative Mike Huckabee? We here in South Carolina are mad that someone comes to our state, runs a lackluster campaign just to get a few of our votes and now plans to quit the race and I will bet you anything that he will endorse John McCain!!!
    Here’s how the Republican nomination works – you have to win the South Carolina primary – then you are the shoe in for Super Tuesday and the likely winner. McCain has been doing this for a long time and he knew that from the start. My theory is that he recruited his Senate Buddies Fred Thompson and possibly even Sam Brownback to split the vote and to assure that other conservative candidates like Mike Huckabee would not be able to garner enough of those conservative votes to win, in particular, in South Carolina. McCain has the moderate vote locked up. His plan is clearly working and now if McCain is to be derailed, it is up to Florida to expose his devious political ploy.
    The facts are clear. If Thompson was not in the race, Mike Huckabee would have won South Carolina and had the boost he needed going into Super Tuesday. Mike Huckabee is the only clear pro-Life, pro-traditional marriage, anti-amnesty for illegals, pro-second amendment… well you get the message. Look, if you really LIKE John McCain go ahead and vote your conscience, but if you want something different – CHANGE – as they call it this year there is only one choice…Mike Huckabee. Don’t waste your vote on a candidate who is really just a John McCain supporter in disguise. A vote for Fred Thompson is REALLY a vote for McCain. By the way I don’t think age is a factor in this race. McCain has plenty of stamina left – I just disagree with him on most important issues.


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