Everyone loves McCain

John McCain revels in a broad coalition's support while Arizona papers nibble at his heels. Bush is blowing through his campaign wad and the president talks about Al and Hillary.

Published February 17, 2000 5:53PM (EST)

In an article investigating whether Democrats will provide the margin of victory in South Carolina, the Los Angeles Times recently caught McCain wooing non-GOP support at a South Carolina barbecue. "Come Democrats! Come Libertarians! Come vegetarians! Come all of you!"

In California rumors abound that Secretary of State Bill Jones, who dumped Bush and endorsed McCain Wednesday, made the move because he saw how large the re-registration numbers had grown: Those numbers will be released next week. As Gary Bauer's Wednesday endorsement demonstrated, McCain's rainbow coalition is drawing support from all corners of the electorate: Now local Reform Party members are getting in on the act.

The breadth of McCain's appeal has caught his own party off guard and prompted some grumbling about their lack of control over the primary process. The core of the Republican Party remains loyal to Bush and may end up winning the South Carolina primary for him simply because they'll turn out.

Arizona papers pull no punches with McCain

McCain's home-state papers have been his most ardent critics but the Arizona Republic has distinguished itself with slanted and, occasionally, bizarre articles like a recent story that managed to mention a remote rumor of John McCain's involvement in a murder. A Republic columnist, E.J. Montini, satirized the article in a column that never made it into print in his own paper but now sees the light at the Phoenix New Times. The Republic's ombudsman recently noted that "Perhaps we erred" in publishing that story.

The Phoenix New Times also investigates John McCain's family's connections to the liquor industry and receptiveness to its lobby.

Bush in self-generated squeeze

The Bush campaign is getting squeezed not only by the threat of McCain but its own profligate spending. According to spending records through Jan. 31, the Bush campaign had only $20 million on hand, meaning that it had spent $50 million so far. It looks like he really expected to waltz through the primary season, and front-loaded his spending to eliminate McCain. Thursday Bush will also have to deal with the Dallas Morning News story that says he used state money for his presidential campaign and criticisms that he once vetoed an HMO idea which he now touts as part of his reform initiative.

Gore is winning but ghosts remain

Despite his stated intention not to comment on the presidential race, Bill Clinton shared some thoughts on his vice president's and spouse's campaigns, despite their mutual avoidance on the stump, during his first press conference of the year Wednesday. Al Gore appears to be running away with the Democratic nomination but questions about his truthfulness continue to plague him. In the background the trial of John Huang also continues to raise questions about Gore's knowledge of campaign-finance improprieties in the 1996 campaign.

Poll positions

The latest national New York Times/CBS News poll shows Bush slipping, McCain surging and Gore doing moderately well.

By Max Garrone

Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

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