During the “All-Star Panel” segment on Fox News’s Special Report last night, Roll Call Executive Editor Mort Kondracke said that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign is worried about appearing too aligned with President Bush and they’re seeking “ways to separate themselves in some way from Bush.” They need “some issue that he can be distinctive from Bush,” said Kondracke
Noting that McCain is the same as Bush on the war and tax cuts, Kondracke said that he doesn’t want to be seen as “just the third term” of Bush:
I know, as a matter of fact, that they’re talking in the McCain camp about ways to separate themselves in some way from Bush, and they haven’t figured out how to do it — some issue that he can be distinctive from Bush about.
Clearly it’s not going to be the war. It’s not going to be tax cuts. It has got to be something reasonably major so that the Democrats can’t say this is just the third term.
McCain has a reputation as a “maverick” for picking fights with Republicans. But as the Weekly Standard’s Matthew Continetti recently wrote, “when you look over the list of his deviations…one cannot help thinking of … George W. Bush.”
TORTURE: Despite McCain’s reputation as an opponent of torture, he has consistently supported legislative language that protects the Bush administration’s prerogatives to use it. Most recently, McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding and urged President Bush to veto the bill.
SURVEILLANCE: Echoing Bush in his CPAC speech this year, McCain called it “shameful and dangerous” for Democrats to oppose a surveillance bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. He then voted “to terminate lawsuits against” those companies.
IMMIGRATION: In 2005, McCain told the New Yorker that “the President and I share exactly the same views on the issue.”
SOCIAL SECURITY: In 2005, McCain was “a big booster” of Bush’s Social Security privatization plan and last week he told the Wall Street Journal that as president he wants to reform Social Security through private savings accounts “along the lines that President Bush proposed.”
HEALTH CARE: After examining his health care plan, the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn recently concluded that McCain will act “like George W. Bush” as he supports policy ideas that “President Bush has embraced.”
Not only is McCain the same as Bush on most policy issues, but he would hire the same types of ideologues to staff his administration. McCain is said to believe that John Bolton is “the type of ambassador that ought to represent the United States at the United Nations.”