There’s been a lot of chatter about who John McCain will choose to be his running mate. Most worrying is the speculation about Joe Lieberman taking the veep spot.
That would be a bad, bad idea. Already conservatives are angry with John McCain. And while McCain is showing that he can win crossover Democrats, he hasn’t shown that he can reach out to conservatives. When he does try to, it comes across as fake, forced. For McCain to win, he needs to be genuine. He isn’t a conservative, and he shouldn’t try to pretend that he is. He should just be himself, be honest and up front about where he stands, and find another way to reach out to conservatives without coming across as condescending. And the best way to do that is to choose a conservative running mate.
Choosing the person to be your running mate needs to be a strategic move, not about who you’ve been good buddies with in the Senate. A good politician will choose someone who can balance them out — someone who is strong where you are weak, who can be tough on the points where maybe you’re a little squishy.
And that’s why South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint would be a fantastic choice for John McCain’s running mate. Let’s take a look at his bio for starters:
Elected as South Carolina’s 55th senator in 2004 after serving six years in the U.S House of Representatives, Jim DeMint has quickly established himself as one of the most effective conservative leaders in Washington. He was recently ranked as the Senate’s most conservative member by National Journal and as the number one senator voting for responsible tax and spending policies by the National Taxpayer Union.
Even as a freshman, Jim has shown that he has no interest in sitting on the sidelines in the Senate. Instead, he has leveraged his expertise in placing products and ideas in a crowded marketplace, gained as the owner of a small market research firm. He has become an effective national voice in Washington’s fight to regain the trust of the American people, most recently on the issues of immigration and wasteful spending.
In late 2006, he was elected by his colleagues as Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, which is comprised of the majority of Republican senators and works to shape and advance conservative legislation. He also serves on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Foreign Relations and Joint Economic Committees.
Senator DeMint is a conservative through and through. He’s got experience, and he’d be able to assuage the bruised egos that many conservatives are still nursing. He’s a fiscal conservative, and a leader of conservatives in the Senate. The National Journal has named Senator DeMint the most conservative senator. He’s been on the front lines of the fight for earmark reform. He has a life ACU rating of 98. The issues he focuses on are earmark reform, illegal immigration, and family values — which is a good complement for McCain. Conservatives would be happy to know that there is someone in the White House who would fight for their values, and McCain would still have his moderate appeal to capture crossover Democrats.
One of Senator DeMint’s strongest positions is on illegal immigration — which is one of McCain’s weakest areas for Republicans and conservatives. McCain has stood for amnesty and open borders, and many people are understandably horrified at the thought of what will happen to our borders and immigration with President John McCain. This is where Vice President Jim DeMint would be the most beneficial. McCain is now claiming that he has changed his mind on illegal immigration and open borders (to an extent), but who can actually believe that? With Senator DeMint as his running mate, there would be a lot more credibility to that claim. Consider how he fought to defeat the shamnesty disaster last year:
After the cloture vote failure at noon on Thursday, Harry Reid could not get unanimous consent to call up amendments to the bill because Jim DeMint refused to give his consent. This was extremely problematic for Reid because he wanted to get in votes on 6 more amendments before the last try at a cloture vote.
At that point, all the senators who were participants in the “Grand Compromise” AKA the “Masters of the Universe” by the opponents of the bill, leaned on DeMint to try to get him to give consent for the bill to move forward. Unfortunately for them, DeMint wouldn’t budge. This essentially killed the entire afternoon that the pro-amnesty side hoped to use to shore up support for the bill.
While DeMint was gumming up the works, the opponents of the bill, including most prominently Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, and Tom Coburn, huddled and came up with a list of conservative amendments they wanted considered.
The “Grand Compromise” crowd didn’t want a lot of these amendments to be voted on because either some of the amendments would have been accepted and it would have killed the bill or alternately, they would have had to vote against common sense enforcement measures and made themselves look bad.
Senator DeMint would be, in my opinion, the best choice for John McCain’s running mate. Because, let’s face it — McCain is not now, nor will he ever be, a conservative. We can whine, bith, and gripe all day long about that fact. But it won’t change anything — he’ll still be our nominee, and he won’t be any more conservative. The solution for McCain and for conservatives would be to get a true conservative in as Vice President — and Jim DeMint would easily be the best choice.