President Bush endorsed John McCain on Wednesday, hours after the Arizona senator locked up the Republican presidential nomination with fresh primary wins. Bush and McCain fought bitterly over the nomination in 2000, but Bush called McCain a man of character with the "determination to defeat an enemy and a heart big enough to love those who hurt." (Reuters)
What the commentators said
Bush and McCain don't have the warmest history, said Massimo Calabresi in Time.com, but they need each other now. "If anyone is going to protect the legacy of Bush's war on terror and Iraq, it is the senior Senator from Arizona." And Bush can help McCain "shore up some wavering constituencies," including a conservative base that "still doesn't trust him on sanctity of life issues like stem cell research."
Still, this was a "dicey" moment for McCain, said Nitya Venkataraman, Bret Hovell, and Jennifer Duck in ABCNews.com. Bush's official stamp of approval might indeed soothe those who don't think McCain is conservative enough. "But any ties to Bush could alienate moderate Republicans and independent voters who are key to a possible McCain victory in November."
McCain "went out of his way" to "express his gratitude" for Bush's help, said Michael Cooper and Elisabeth Bumiller in The New York Times (free registration). But this was clearly an "uncomfortable" moment. McCain would love to tap into Bush's "fund-raising prowess." But the last thing he needs is to be seen too often with an unpopular president at his side, so don't expect Bush to do much campaigning.