Sunday, March 12, 2006



The 2008 Republican field is clearly wide open. It could be said, however, that Embattled Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, took the first step to the nomination this weekend. At least, he struck the first blow.

Frist, backed by an army of home-state voters, pulled off a decisive win in a straw poll of presidential prospects at a gathering of Republican activists in Memphis. The so-called Frist victory is not what makes this event interesting. It was the behaviour of Arizona Senator John McCain.

McCain, who placed fourth, urged his supporters Friday night to vote for Bush instead of him as a symbol of support during "the so-called" tough times. McCain clearly is going out of his way to make nice with a President who has limited (declining public support) and one who personally attacked John (think the Carolinas) during the 2000 Republican primaries.

(Side bar) How is it that Bush got away with, twice, either directly or through a third party questioning the patriotism of his opponents?

Straw polls, for what they are worth, are notoriously terrible predictors of what ultimately happens in any presidential nomination race. Previous winners of straw polls have included the late Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., (who beat eventual nominee Walter Mondale in Wisconsin in 1983) and Republican Rev. Pat Robertson (who beat eventual nominee George H.W. Bush in Iowa in 1987). Yes, the same Pat Robertson who has been in the news of late. He of the crazy assassination statements.

Nearly 82% of Frist's votes came from Tennesseans. But 42% of his home-state voters spurned him for other candidates.

National opinion polls show McCain has broad appeal as a presidential candidate. But he only got 66 votes Saturday night.

The results:
Bill Frist, 526 votes, 36.9%
Mass. Gov. Milt Romney, 205 votes, 14.4%
Senator George Allen, 147 votes, 10.3%
President Bush (write-in), 147 votes, 10.3%
John McCain, 66 votes, 4.6%
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,54 votes, 3.8%
"Other" (write-in), 43 votes,3.0%
New York Gov. George Pataki, 38 votes, 2.7%
Secretary of State Condi Rice (write-in), 32 votes, 2.2%
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, 22 votes, 1.5%
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 15 votes, 1.1%
Former Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, 13 votes, .9%
Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, 3 votes, .2%

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