I was interested and somewhat surprised to receive a blast e-mail from the Jane Norton campaign with this headline:
Norton, McCain to Press Case for Political Courage in Afghanistan War
Norton and Arizona Senator to Campaign in Colorado Sunday
I sent the following comment to the Norton campaign:
Very interesting strategery to highlight Jane's ties to John McCain since that tie is one of the things most used against her by the GOP base (or at least Buck supporters.) I presume Buck and friends will say "See, I told you so" and Jane will have to respond by saying "This is only about the war on terror...McCain and I agree to disagree on quite a few other issues."
I received the following response/explanation from Josh Penry:
So here's the strategy.
1 - John McCain's approval rating in Colorado is metoric. 69 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable, among GOP primary voters.
2 - The 22 percent who dislike John McCain almost universally agree with McCain and Norton on the war - and thus disagree with the Surrender Monkey wing of the Ron Paul movement that Buck has shown sympathies to.
3 - There are about 500,000 live ballots out there right now, many of them have never voted in a primary, but 90 percent of them voted for John McCain. The numbers are conclusive: if you want to enlarge the universe, and we do, McCain can help do it to a greater extent than anyone else.
So when Team Buck attacks McCain all week, it'll feel good. But 69 percent of GOP primary voters will disagree, and lots of voters who don't usually vote in primaries will have one more reason to pay attention - and vote Jane.+
It seems audacious, but the numbers say it's really not and we're on offense until the end.
To me, it does seem audacious, but then major political campaigns do a lot more research than I do. If they believe that being seen with John McCain is a net positive for them, it's hard for me to say that I'm certain they're wrong. But I tend to go with my gut instinct on things and my gut is that they'd better be pretty certain they're going to attract moderate Republicans with this move because they'll certainly turn off the usual core of GOP primary voters.
For the record, I have said that I lean somewhat toward the Buck statements on Afghanistan rather than towards Jane's "double down" approach. I didn't see Buck's statements as being particularly close to Ron Paul's views. In any case, a lot more people will be seeing Norton and McCain talk about Afghanistan than will read (or care about) my view on the subject, and the political impact of McCain coming to Norton's side should be quite an interesting thing to watch.
If McCain seems to help Norton -- which will require Norton to fend off questions about McCain's positions -- or at least prior positions -- on amnesty, cap-and-trade, campaign finance restrictions, etc. -- that will imply some combination of (1) voters believing in McCain 2.0 rather than the RINO we all knew him to be just 18 months ago, and (2) voters believing that Jane Norton is not a female John McCain when it comes to unpopular policy positions among the GOP base. (I have steadfastly maintained from my first meeting with Jane that she is far more solidly conservative than McCain and unhesitatingly distanced herself from him on at least those three issues mentioned above.) McCain seems to be selling McCain 2.0 well enough in Arizona that he leads his primary challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, by 20 points in the most recent Rasmussen poll. (Hayworth is not a particularly appealing candidate for many reasons, however, and even though I dislike(d) McCain enough to argue against him during the 2008 presidential election, I still like him better than Hayworth.) McCain also leads his Democratic opponent by 19% in a poll released yesterday -- a poll which shows that the Democrat leads Hayworth.
Finally, given the relatively daring nature of this move by the Norton campaign, it reinforces my view that this is probably an extremely close race, notwithstanding (or perhaps made even more clear by) the alternating poll results, one showing Jane ahead, then one showing Ken Buck ahead.
Indeed, I'm thinking that all three major primaries (GOP Senate and Gov, and Dem Senate) will be decided by less than 5 percentage points and guessing the results at this point is little better than flipping a coin. I am rooting for Jane, though I don't think Buck is a bad guy or a bad candidate. I'm rooting for McInnis and Maes both to lose, though I suppose if I had to want one of them to win the primary it would be McInnis because I think there's a very slightly higher chance that he'll then agree to get out. And I'd rather run against Bennet than Romanoff just because if Romanoff knocks off an incumbent, he'll have some additional momentum.
A friend of mine commented on the McCain visit "If he can talk Sarah into coming, I might actually show up." Norton would indeed be very fortunate if Sarah Palin would give a full-throated endorsement such as she implied with her "Pink Elephants" comments a few months back, though I sorta think she would have endorsed already if she were going to. If she proves me wrong, that could be a game-changer in the race...much more than McCain could ever be.
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