A Washington Post article uncritically reported the claim by a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain that McCain "has been seen as standing up to his party and fighting on issues -- the war in Iraq and immigration -- that have damaged him politically." The Post did not report that McCain has reversed his position on immigration to more closely align himself with the Republican Party's base.
In an April 12 article, The Washington Post uncritically reported the assertion by Steve Schmidt, an adviser to Sen. John McCain, that "attacks from Democrats," including Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean's comment that McCain is a "blatant opportunist," are " 'not very worrisome' because McCain has been seen as standing up to his party and fighting on issues -- the war in Iraq and immigration -- that have damaged him politically." However, the Post did not mention that McCain has reversed his position on immigration in order to align himself more closely with the base of his party. Indeed, as the Post itself noted in a February 20 article, "What McCain is saying has changed. Whereas once he firmly said that no immigration legislation could work unless it twinned tougher border enforcement with a guest-worker program and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, he now maintains that sealing the border must come first."
Additionally, during CNN's January 30 Republican presidential debate, McCain asserted that he "would not" support his own comprehensive immigration proposal that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if it came to a vote on the Senate floor:
JANET HOOK (Los Angeles Times staff writer): Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here.
What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
McCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate --
HOOK: I know, but what if it did?
McCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the borders secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal.
From the April 12 Washington Post article, by staff writers Michael D. Shear and Juliet Eilperin:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean recently called McCain a "blatant opportunist" on Iraq and the economy, prompting an angry response from Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who accused Dean of making "reckless statements attacking John McCain's character and integrity."
Schmidt calls the attacks from Democrats "not very worrisome" because McCain has been seen as standing up to his party and fighting on issues -- the war in Iraq and immigration -- that have damaged him politically.
Independent polling data suggest Schmidt may be right. McCain's favorability, especially among independents, remains far higher than that of Bush or congressional Republicans, suggesting that voters view him differently -- at least for now. Republican support for McCain is stronger than Democratic support for his rivals.