Saddleback Bump for McCain

As it turns out, the Saddleback Forum may turn out to be one of the most significant events in this election season:

He clashed with their leaders in his 2000 campaign. He struggled to gain their votes during the 2008 primaries. And he still doesn’t spend much time talking about the issues they consider most important.

But after Saturday night’s televised forum at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., John McCain has taken an important step toward shoring up his support among the Republican Party’s Christian conservative base.

Even as speculation swirls that McCain could choose a running mate who supports abortion rights — a move that would surely anger Christian conservatives — the presumptive Republican nominee is enjoying a lift from his performance in last weekend’s forum.

So to the politics of all of this.

Of course, now it remains important that he maintain that surge he’s enjoying, and like it or not, for this election, that means picking a VP candidate who shares the same abortion views as McCain does. That is a third-rail issue for the voters he wooed Saturday night and he can trash the bump if he selects a Republican like Ridge or, especially, if he was to pick Joe Lieberman.

McCain finally has some momentum going. He has Obama on the defensive, he’s hitting some good issues, Russia is cooperating in highlighting the importance of foreign policy and national security, and he’s gained visibility among conservatives with his showing at Saddleback. His next move – announcing his VP pick, will tell everyone if he has figured all of this out and made a selection which will enhance his credibility and standing among a mostly unexcited base. If he goes with someone like Ridge or Lieberman, its pretty much over.

His campaign has announced that it won’t be anyone who doesn’t share his abortion views. He’s also going to announce his pick on the 29th in order to steal a little air from the Dems. Seems to me, if true, the McCain campaign is, at least for the moment, hitting on all cylinders.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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