As John McCain prepares to deliver his remarks on the future of the judiciary today in North Carolina, it looks like he will be under some close scrutiny from the Right, who are growing fed up with his seeming reluctance to throw them red meat:
In town-hall meetings, Sen. McCain makes a point to explain his positions on terrorism, taxes, the economy, energy and health care. But in his prepared remarks, he never mentions abortion, same-sex marriage, judges or gun rights. When asked, he often responds quickly and moves on.
“Imagine if you were an economic conservative and someone never talked about tax policy unless they were asked about it,” said Charmaine Yoest, a vice president at the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group focused on social issues.
Asked whether she thinks Sen. McCain really cares about the abortion issue, she said, “I don’t know, and that’s his problem.”
As such, many of them are launching a campaign to make the issue of judges a centerpiece of the upcoming election:
Conservative leaders also want the party to embrace language that would instruct Senate leaders to make the confirmation of nominees a higher priority. Conservatives say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must press Democrats harder to confirm several controversial nominees, such as D.C. Circuit Court nominee Peter Keisler and 4th Circuit Court nominee Robert Conrad Jr.
Manuel Miranda, a former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), circulated a draft Monday of principles for the GOP platform committee to consider. Several conservative leaders quickly endorsed it.
Paul Weyrich, chairman of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, said he supports including the language on judicial nominees in the party platform.
“I think the more we particularize that whole issue, the more people focus on the topic,” Weyrich said. Making detailed guidelines on judicial nominees part of the platform would also help social conservatives hold McCain to account if he is elected president.
“You can compare what the party says with any subsequent action by its nominees,” said Weyrich.
And while McCain is delivering his remarks, Republican National Committee officials will be courting right-wing leaders on this effort having “invited social conservative leaders based in and around Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting Tuesday morning where former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) will give them a preview of McCain’s remarks.”
Already McCain surrogate Sen. Sam Brownback is making the rounds assuring the Right that it’ll like what it hears and, judging by excerpts of McCain’s remarks and preliminary press coverage, it certainly looks like that will be the case:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday he would appoint judges in the mold of conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist if he were elected in November.
In an excerpt from a speech McCain was to give in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, the Arizona senator said he would “look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint.”
“I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist — jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference,” McCain said.
In fact, so sure is the McCain camp that this speech will win over the Right that it is reaching out to them via GOPUSA seeking donations:
We have a lot at stake in this presidential election. As a nation, we face many challenges that will require real leadership from our next president. I have said before that this election will be about the big things, not the small things, and I write to you today about one big issue in particular – the future of the U.S. Supreme Court. If one of my Democratic opponents is elected in November, you can rest assured that given the opportunity to appoint judges, they will appoint those who make law with disregard for the will of the people.
There may be at least two vacancies on the United States Supreme Court during the next presidential term. As president, I will ensure that only those judges with a strict interpretation of the Constitution of the United States are appointed. I will nominate judges who understand that their role is to faithfully apply the law as written, not impose their opinions through judicial fiat.
If you want judges who have a clear, complete adherence to the Constitution of the United States and who do not legislate from the bench to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, then I ask that you join my campaign for president today by making a financial contribution.