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    November 19, 2006

    McCain the social conservative

    Posted by: Chris

    Abc_tw_mccain2_0611119_nr When John McCain faced off against George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential primaries, a lot of gay Republican money and support went to the Arizona senator. On gay rights issues, the two Republicans were pretty much alike, but McCain was more open to dialogue and at least agreed to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. Bush, on the other hand, refused to sit down with Log Cabin, while (in)famously declaring himself "a uniter and not a divider."

    Six years later, as McCain gears up for a certain presidential bid in 2008, his opposition to any form of gay rights has clearly hardened, part of his general strategy of ingratiating himself with conservative Christians who helped sink his 2000 run. Today on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos came right out of the box in the first few minutes of the interview with a series of questions on gay rights. And while McCain talked about his opposition to "discrimination," his positions were clear:

    • Against gay marriage and (unlike suggestions from President Bush) civil unions
    • Against domestic partnerships or any form of legal recognition for gay couples
    • Against reconsideration, much less repeal, of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
    • Against basic employment non-discrimination legislation

    The only bright spot was on a federal marriage amendment. While McCain didn't address the issue specifically, he said that as "a federalist" he believed social issues like gay marriage (and abortion) should be decided by the states.

    Follow the jump for videoclips of McCain's "This Week" appearance:

    Videoclips of his appearance follow, and kudos to Stephanapoulos for pressing McCain on how his personal opposition to discrimination didn't translate into policy.

    Here he is on gays in the military:

    On gay marraige, McCain voted this month for a sweeping (and failed) Arizona ballot measure that banned not only marriage but civil unions and domestic partnerships. McCain seems to think he strikes a moderate tone by defending the ability of gays to enter into private contracts with our partners if we want. Gee, thanks:

    Finally, Stephanopoulos asked whether McCain agreed with Trent Lott that homosexuality is a "sin." Though McCain disagreed and called discrimination against gays "un-American," he reiterated his opposition to even workplace protections for gays:


    McCain's run to the right is a questionable strategy. In didn't work for Steve Forbes and Lamar Alexander, two social moderates whose ran to the right on their second White House bids and were crushed, performing worse than their first time around. McCain will be a much stronger candidate in '08 and is the clear GOP frontrunner, but his lurch to the hard-right risks turning off the independents he needs to actually be elected.



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    1. Sen. John McCain donning his presidential flip-flops? from Pajamas Media on Nov 20, 2006 4:30:11 AM

      As McCain cozies up to the conservative Republican base, his positions on hot button social issues appear to be, well, evolving and were on eyebrow-raising display in his appearance yesterday on "This Week." Citizen Crain highlights how the Arizona sen... [Read More]


    1. Don on Nov 19, 2006 3:45:51 PM:

      I watched McCain on TV and couldn't believe how he wanted it both ways. He would make sweeping general statements about equality and no discrimination, but then completely undo that statement when Stephanopoulos went in for a more detailed answer.

      I might believe McCain's position on same sex marriage, if after he says that marriage should be determined by the states (a la Federalism), he then followed that statement with "and the Federal government should honor each individual state's determination on who is married or not (for benefits, etc.) If he would say that, I would give him points for some sort of consistency. But I would bet a lot of money that that that is not his position. I'm afraid McCain is trying too hard to please the social conservatives in the Republican Party. Someone should point out to him that he is NOT a Goldwater conservative as he thinks he is (coincidentally, McCain hold's Goldwater's Senate seat). Goldwater believed gays should be able to serve in the military ("you don't have to be straight, you just have to shoot straight.") McCain is not a moderate and he is certainly no friend of gays.

    1. Tim on Nov 20, 2006 10:32:37 AM:

      The closer we get to a campaign kickoff, the more disappointed I am becoming in Sen. McCain. I think he may want the nomination too much.

    1. Ten-K on Nov 26, 2006 8:20:29 PM:

      Can we expect the same from Rudy? He bucked the right in his first mayor's term, endorsing Mario Cuomo for governor. But after 9/11, he tried to force a third term as mayor despite NY's term limits--naked ambition. McCain will squeeze Rudy on gay rights.

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