Portsmouth Herald   Tuesday, January 11, 2000

McCain is the right man to lead Republicans in 2000

Because of his irrefutable commitment to his country, because of his ability to admit mistakes and to learn from them, and because of his attack on how money has virtually choked the life out of the American political system, we are selecting John McCain as our choice for the Republican contest in New Hampshire's February 1 primary.

The entire American electorate would be well served to have McCain as the nominee of the Republican party next summer and have him run against whomever the Democratic nominee is.

It is understandable that McCain's candidacy is scary to the establishment at large, and it is the reason why the majority of Republican U.S. Senators have opted to support Texas Gov. George W. Bush.  Because McCain, in effect, wants the federal government to get closer to the American people.  To upset the balance of power in such a way, that is, to advocate that our federally elected officials become more accountable to the electorate rather than special interests, is an attractive and powerful reason for supporting the Arizona senator's bid for our most powerful office.

We believe John McCain has enough conviction and authority to begin this incredibly important national conversation. Nothing so revolutionary is achieved overnight, and the power structure as it exists in Washington has been around for many years. But the growing unease Americans have been feeling about the disconnect between their everyday concerns and how the Washington establishment has been reacting to them has manifested itself not just in the candidacy of John McCain but in the growing support of voters here in New Hampshire as well.

George W. Bush's campaign has been a disappointment.  His early refusal to participate in debates was not just a snub to the voters, but a very clear indication that Bush's people felt he simply was not ready for public scrutiny.

When he did emerge, voters were somehow meant to feel better that a leading candidate for the presidency was now merely up to the task of running an adequate campaign, while completely sidestepping the issue of whether Bush was actually ready to lead the country.

The staggering amount of money Bush has been able to raise, which now totals nearly $70 million, raises questions of not just who he will be beholden to if he gets to Washington the kind of money for access connection McCain has been warning us about but also highlights the kind of candidate the political establishment likes to put forward, i.e. one who may not be the best leader but is certainly the most electable.

Bush has been governor of Texas for three years.  Texas is known to have a strong legislature and a constitutionally weak governor and he has yet, frankly, to demonstrate the kind of depth of knowledge and temperament that one would hope to see in a national candidate.

That doesn't mean Bush can't get there with more seasoning.  But Bush is in the position he is this year not because someone has discovered within him the making of a great 21st century president.  No, Bush is leading the pack because he has shown to be the owner of a likeable, agreeable personality, a photogenic smile and a name that is instantly familiar and appealing to conservative voters.

But this is not the time in American history to simply turn to a person because he can take the office of the president away from the Democrats.  Each issue facing this country in the next four years will be important and crucial, not just for our continued economic success, but also whether our borders remain safe and our environment liveable.  It is the wrong time in history to choose political expediency over real reform, or to choose an amiable personality over the possibility of electing a true leader.

John McCain should be given the opportunity to lead the Republican ticket in November's presidential election.