Ignoring flip-flops, NY Times cited McCain's "history" on immigration, relationship with "religious conservatives" as appealing to Oregonians' "libertarian streak"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

After citing "Senator John McCain's maverick image," The New York Times' William Yardley wrote that "Republicans in Oregon are less likely to go to church and more likely to have a libertarian streak than those in some other states. Ordinarily, that might benefit Mr. McCain, who has struggled to win support from religious conservatives and has a history of breaking with his party on matters like immigration and campaign finance reform." But in citing McCain's purported "history of breaking with his party on matters like immigration," Yardley did not report that McCain has reversed his position on immigration -- to the point of saying that he no longer supports his own bill on comprehensive immigration reform.

In a May 19 New York Times article on voting trends in Oregon, reporter William Yardley wrote, "Some Republicans believe Senator John McCain's maverick image will play well in a state with a history of affection for contrarian Republicans." He also wrote that "Republicans in Oregon are less likely to go to church and more likely to have a libertarian streak than those in some other states. Ordinarily, that might benefit Mr. McCain, who has struggled to win support from religious conservatives and has a history of breaking with his party on matters like immigration and campaign finance reform." But in citing McCain's purported "history of breaking with his party on matters like immigration," Yardley did not report that McCain has reversed his position on immigration -- to the point of saying that he no longer supports his own bill on comprehensive immigration reform.

Additionally, Yardley suggested that McCain's purported difficulties with religious conservatives align him with "a libertarian streak" in Oregon voters. But Yardley did not mention recent steps McCain has taken to overcome those purported difficulties, which seemingly conflict with the "libertarian streak" Yardley described in Oregon voters. For example, after calling Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson "agents of intolerance" during his 2000 presidential campaign, McCain said on the April 2, 2006, edition of NBC's Meet the Press that he no longer believed Falwell was an "agent of intolerance." McCain's efforts to win over religious conservatives have also included delivering the commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University in May 2006, as well as actively seeking the endorsement of evangelist John Hagee, who, among other controversial comments, referenced a Gay Pride parade scheduled in New Orleans the day Hurricane Katrina hit the city and said, "I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."

From the May 19 New York Times article:

Some Republicans believe Senator John McCain's maverick image will play well in a state with a history of affection for contrarian Republicans, like former Senators Mark O. Hatfield and Bob Packwood. Yet Democrats, and some Republicans, too, think the state is Mr. Obama's to lose, that the momentum that in recent years has given control of the governor's office and the Legislature to Democrats is still on the uptick. They even say so out in the orchards.

"This used to be what one would say is a Republican stronghold," said Ron Rivers, a grower and chairman of the Hood River County Board of Commissioners. "And I don't think it is anymore."

As if to prove the point, Mr. Rivers, himself a Republican, noted that his wife just changed her party affiliation to Democratic so she could vote for Mr. Obama and that he, while remaining a Republican, planned to vote for Mr. Obama if he was the general election nominee.

[...]

The shorter-term trend, however, appears to directly favor Mr. Obama, both against Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain. The vast majority of new voters who have registered this year are Democrats, and well more than half are 30 or younger, a group that has embraced Mr. Obama. In addition, of the 83,000 voters who changed parties this year alone, a large majority switched to Democratic. A small fraction switched to Republican.

"The shifts in the past have been very gradual," said John Lindback, the state's director of elections. "This particular campaign we saw very dramatic changes in party registration."

Yet Oregon voters' deepest allegiance may be to independence. The number of unaffiliated voters more than doubled in the last two decades, and many Republicans and Democrats insisted in interviews that, as Mr. Rivers, the commission chairman, put it, "I vote for issues and the person."

Republicans in Oregon are less likely to go to church and more likely to have a libertarian streak than those in some other states. Ordinarily, that might benefit Mr. McCain, who has struggled to win support from religious conservatives and has a history of breaking with his party on matters like immigration and campaign finance reform.

"The problem for him is that the war isn't one of those issues," said Dan Lavey, a public relations consultant who has had contact with the McCain campaign here and also advises Senator Gordon Smith, the only Republican elected statewide.

Oregon, with no major defense industries or a major military facility, has expressed strong opposition to the war in Iraq. Multnomah County, which includes Portland, is particularly antiwar. Successful candidates, including Republicans, know not to leave Portland without courting the bicycle-commuter vote.

Still, Mr. Lavey said he thought Mr. McCain was wise to come here this month to announce a plan for reducing carbon emissions that included sharp criticism of President Bush's environmental policies.

"That was a good start, and I'd like to think he kicked off his general election here in Oregon with that speech," Mr. Lavey said.

Posted In
Elections, Immigration, Immigration Reform
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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