During the 2008 presidential primary, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) secured the GOP nomination by compiling an impressive list of at least 44 various flip-flops on previously stated positions. But now that he is facing a serious challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) in the Arizona Senate primary, McCain is again veering to the far right to solidify his political future. In his fight to recreate himself to Arizona voters, he’s even erasing the self-appointed title he once campaigned on.
In the next edition of the magazine, Newsweeks’ David Margolick reports that McCain no longer calls himself a “maverick.” In fact, McCain told Margolick that he has “never considered myself a maverick.” It’s an odd claim to make, especially considering the fact McCain cut an ad calling the McCain-Palin ticket a team of “original mavericks,” told voters he is the “maverick” of the Senate, and appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch where he spoofed his own obsession with being called a maverick. During the campaign, he would routinely call himself a maverick as part of his stump speech:
MCCAIN: You may figure out from time-to-time, Sarah and I don’t agree on every issue. What do you expect of two mavericks? Heh?
Although McCain carefully branded himself as a maverick to appeal to independent voters in 2008, he now cowers from the term in his Arizona Republican primary. But while McCain’s rejection of a word synonymous with “independent” might appear disingenuous, it fits along a long running metamorphosis of McCain as a bland, far right Republican partisan.
McCain once touted cap and trade as a solution to the climate change crisis, making it a hallmark of his energy plan. Now, he derides the concept as “cap and tax.” After the Supreme Court invalidated much of his own signature McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, McCain largely shrugged off the decision, and has not taken a stand on reforming the election system. Rather than putting “Country First,” McCain has reconfigured his political identity to win votes in the primary.