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More '08: McCain, Bayh, and Warner

Teddy Davis at ABC News writes on McCain's rapprochement with Jerry Falwell. Paul Krugman takes on McCain (again) in his column today (Times $elect) and comes to the following conclusion:

As for Mr. McCain: his denunciation of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson six years ago helped give him a reputation as a moderate on social issues. Now that he has made up with Mr. Falwell and endorsed South Dakota's ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest, only two conclusions are possible: either he isn't a social moderate after all, or he's a cynical political opportunist.

I happen to think Krugman is on the mark here, though it's possible to argue McCain was being more of a political opportunist in 2000 trying to ride his maverick image to the nomination with his ill fated Sister-Souljah-type denunciation of the Christian right than he is this time around by making the rather banal acknowledgement that evangelicals are "active" and "have a right to be a part of our party." Still, to Krugman's point, either McCain was posturing then or he's posturing now; either way it does some damage to his "I'm a straight shooter" image.

On the other side, Chris Cillizza has an interview with Evan Bayh over at The Fix. Cillizza writes:

Never a charismatic politician, Bayh is hoping that voters see that serious times call for serious politicians -- a philosophy of bridge-building over bomb-throwing. "Leading this country has to be about something other than ideological division," Bayh said. "It's got to be about how we move this country forward in practical terms, not looking at issues as left or right or even center but instead do they make sense, will they matter in peoples' lives?"

This is, not surprisingly, almost identical to Mark Warner's pitch. Three weeks ago the former Governor of Virginia (who is a very charismatic politician, by the way) held a small private fundraiser in the suburbs north of Chicago where he told the crowd that his candidacy is about dropping ideological labels and reframing issues not in terms of left vs. right or liberal vs. conservative, but future versus past. Warner cited education and economic competition with India and China as two examples of issues in need of being recast, but the metaphor extends to a number of others as well.

There probably won't be enough resources available to accommodate two DLC candidates running to the right of Hillary for any extended length of time. At some point either Warner or Bayh is going graduate to becoming the sole anti-Hillary alternative. That point is still a long, long way off, but if I had to lay money down today it would be a no brainer: Warner's the man.