February 6th, 2008 04:11 EST
Can McCain court conservative vote?
Manassas, VA, Feb. 5/Christian Newswire/ -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain has a short time to reach out to conservatives--to "stop the bleeding before it's too late," Richard A. Viguerie said.
"It's not enough for him to make a speech at a conservative meeting, or declare himself a conservative, or get a member of the Washington establishment like Bob Dole to vouch for his credentials," Viguerie said. "He must take immediate steps to show conservatives that they have a real stake in his election.
"The ball is in Senator McCain's court. For years, he has made himself the adversary of conservatives. Now he must take the initiative in reaching out.
"Rush Limbaugh has declared that McCain's nomination would destroy the Republican Party, and Dr. James Dobson says he will not, under any circumstances, vote for Senator McCain," Viguerie noted. "But it's not just famous conservatives who feel this way. It's grassroots conservatives, who remember what the Senator did on taxes, immigration, freedom of speech, the 'gay marriage' amendment, 'global warming,' and a score of other issues."
Viguerie noted that, "To get conservatives on board, Senator McCain doesn't need to repudiate long-held positions, or appear to kowtow. He would diminish himself if he did that.
"What he can and must do is to reach out to conservatives with concrete proposals to bring real change to Washington -- to go beyond even what Reagan was able to do. He must pledge not just to get rid of earmarks, but also to dismantle entire programs, agencies, and Cabinet positions.
"And he must answer this question: What kind of people would he surround himself with, if he became president? Would he recruit from Wall Street and K Street, or will he bring a new generation of conservative leaders to Washington? What kind of people would he pick as judges, as Cabinet members, and, most importantly, as vice president?
"He must show conservatives that his presidency would be an extension of what was started with Ronald Reagan."
If McCain is the GOP nominee, many conservatives will hold their noses and vote for him, Viguerie said. "But that's not enough. If he is to be elected in November, he must have the enthusiastic support of nearly all conservatives, not just the grudging support of a plurality. He must have conservatives excited about his campaign, going door to door, making telephone calls, and sending out postcards and e- mails -- all the things that require them to sacrifice time they could spend with their families. They won't do that if the only reason they're supporting McCain is that the Democrat is even worse."
If McCain reaches out to conservatives in the right way, Viguerie said, "conservatives will reach out to him. For John McCain, there is a pathway to citizenship in the conservative movement -- if only he will take it."
[Richard A. Viguerie pioneered ideological and political direct mail and has been called "the funding father of the conservative movement" for his role in helping build dozens of conservative organizations. He is the author of Conservatives Betrayed--How George W. Bush and Other Big-Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause.] (Bonus Books, 2006).