Article in the Wall Street Journal. Excerpts:
Mr. McCain is likely untouchable in a general election, but the smaller GOP electorate is challenging. A Rasmussen Reports survey last year found that 61% of core GOP voters thought he was "out of touch" and only a third believed he was doing a good job representing conservative values. Since then, his high-profile opposition to ObamaCare and a raft of TV ads has likely helped boost his numbers.
Nonetheless, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth is convinced his state's senior senator is vulnerable. Mr. Hayworth served 12 years in Congress until he was ousted in the 2006 Democratic landslide, in part because he was also seen as "out of touch" with constituents....
But Mr. Hayworth is confident he can catch up by portraying the 2008 GOP presidential nominee as someone who has "enabled" Barack Obama's agenda on economic and foreign policy.
"I'm giving Arizona Republicans a clear choice between a consistent, common-sense conservative . . . or someone who describes himself as a maverick, but is a moderate," he told the Washington Times yesterday.....
The outspoken former congressman may have talked a good game when he was in the House. But when it came to federal spending he -- more than Mr. McCain -- was an "enabler" of questionable budget items. It was Mr. Hayworth, not Mr. McCain, who voted for a 2003 prescription drug benefit that added enormously to the nation's future liabilities.
It was Mr. Hayworth who voted for bloated farm and highway bills, while Mr. McCain opposed them. It was Mr. Hayworth who was a consistent seeker and supporter of pork-barrel Congressional earmarks. Mr. McCain, on the other hand, never requested earmarks in appropriations bills and often led a crusade against those he felt were improperly slipped into bills.
All of this will make for a lively Republican primary and national political reporters can be counted on to portray the race as a moderate veteran against a "Tea Party" upstart. But the reality is a lot more complicated. Let's just say either man would have trouble convincing Barry Goldwater, Arizona's nonpareil conservative, that he was Goldwater's true heir.
Huh. I've been wanting McCain to lose this race. Now I'm not so sure.