Just yesterday we were noting the Right’s repeated warnings to John McCain not to pick Mitt Romney as his running and their incessant clamoring for him to pick Mike Huckabee. Now it looks like Huckabee himself is getting into the act:
“I think a lot of people, not just social conservatives, but a lot of the Republicans I know are not necessarily comfortable with Romney,” Huckabee told CBSNews.com. “But it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with inconsistencies in positions he’s held, and that’s it.”
In our earlier post on this, we cited Tony Perkin’s advice that McCain needed to pick a running mate who is “strong where he is weak” and had a “record of delivering” on the issues that matter to the Right and speculated that McCain’s statement yesterday that he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate, possibly Tom Ridge, was not going to go over well with the Right.
But social-conservative leaders say a pro-choice nominee would cripple Mr. McCain politically with the Republican Party base.
“I think McCain has to have a running mate that clearly connects with social conservatives in the party,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “That is where he is lacking. So if he picks a pro-choice running mate, I don’t see how he can win this race.”
Asked whether social and religious conservatives would walk away from Mr. McCain if he picks Mr. Ridge or some other pro-choice running mate, Mr. Perkins said, “I’m not going to say people will stay home, but there is a core of voters whose level of enthusiasm influences people further from the core.
“So if McCain picks a pro-choice running mate, the strength of turnout on Election Day is not going to be there for him,” Mr. Perkins said.
Considering that the Right’s support for McCain is tepid at best and hinges almost entirely on his choice of running-mate, McCain can hardly afford to pick someone like Ridge. In fact, just last week, Richard Land told CBS that Ridge would be an unmitigated “catastrophe,” so it’s not as if McCain hasn’t been warned.
And just in case McCain needs any more advice on picking a running mate, Rick Santorum is there to give it to him:
If the Republican victory strategy is to disqualify Obama, McCain can’t do anything that would disqualify himself in the minds of these less-than-ideological voters prepared to shift his way. As such, McCain’s vice presidential pick has to be a nonevent, something of a yawner.
McCain needs someone who isn’t going to upset the essential conservative base of the Republican Party, but will not raise red flags to moderates who have disqualified, or are ready to disqualify, Obama.
Better for John McCain to be safe than sorry.