The Blog

Kiss of Death

What John McCain's endorsement of Marilyn Brewer in California's 48th District special election means for his presidential chances.

11:03 AM, Sep 1, 2005 • By HUGH HEWITT
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IN MAY OF THIS YEAR, John McCain teamed with Ted Kennedy to propose a new bill to "solve" the illegal immigration problem. The McCain-Kennedy bill was DOA with Republicans in the House and the Senate.

Which may explain why Senator McCain has endorsed Marilyn Brewer in the special election to replace former Congressman Chris Cox (who has been confirmed as the new chair of the SEC) in California's 48th Congressional District. McCain wants to push through a liberalization of the immigration law and he needs some help in the House. Brewer, a pro-abortion rights Republican, has no other GOP figure of note endorsing her. It looks like a match made in heaven. McCain can count on Brewer being soft on the border. Brewer can count on McCain being soft on life issues.

Except for the fact that Republicans of all political stripes, from the centrist Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the conservative Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce, have endorsed GOP State Senator John Campbell in the October 4 balloting. The entire party has unified behind Campbell (including me--full disclosure, I contributed to Campbell's campaign). Brewer hasn't even gotten the endorsement of the liberal "New Majority" Republicans who gently support abortion rights. The Club for Growth is behind Campbell, and he will almost certainly win the primary in a walk. He may well even garner 50 percent of the votes, which would prevent a costly second round of balloting in the coastal Orange County district. Campbell, who is a budget and border hawk, is a personable businessman who will arrive in Congress eager to raise money for his colleagues and awareness of the issues unique to Southern California. He's such a perfect candidate that he has degrees from both USC and UCLA. Campbell will crush Brewer, Democrats, and assorted third party candidates, including one of the "Minutemen."

So what does McCain's endorsement of the pro-abortion rights Brewer tell us? That the senator isn't serious about his oft-proclaimed "pro-life" stance. That's he's as soft as a fresh baked pretzel on the border. That he doesn't much care what the local party thinks about anything. It's all about McCain, you see, and that's poison to folks who have spent decades building the base.

Most important, it tells us that McCain's got a tin ear for local politics, the sort of deficiency that condemns a candidate to Stassen status after the novelty has worn off.

John McCain is a great American, a lousy senator, and a terrible Republican. His endorsement of a single digit also-ran in an important off-year election proves all of those things. If he'd endorsed John Campbell, McCain would have been serious about being president. Endorsing Brewer proves he's serious about being John McCain.

And when John Campbell wins the Cox seat with bipartisan support, the mainstream media should notice that John McCain couldn't deliver in an open primary.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World. His daily blog can be found at HughHewitt.com.