John McCain won the Republican primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday, dealing longtime front-runner Mitt Romney his second straight loss. The vote sealed McCain’s return to the top tier of candidates, and left the race for the GOP presidential nomination wide open as it moves on to Michigan and South Carolina. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Everyone who wrote obituaries for McCain’s Straight Talk Express last summer is looking “foolish” now, said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post (free registration). One reason for his “improbable resurrection” is the improvement of the situation in Iraq, which has lessened “voter anger at the war—and at him.” But another “chief factor” was simply “the weakness of the rest of the Republican field.”
McCain is going to need more than a popular Iraq policy and “character” to win the nomination, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. New Hampshire has joined Iowa in voting to “shake up politics.” McCain is going to “need a domestic reform agenda,” and extending President Bush’s tax cuts as part of a major tax reform proposal would be a good place to start. Whatever happens, we’re in for a “wild January.”
New Hampshire voters did the nation “a service” by leaving both parties’ contests wide open, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). “The Republican fringe” would be wise to refrain from trying to “savage” McCain—who is not the darling of social conservatives—to bring him down. Voters in both parties clearly want change, and they want someone who will unite America, not divide it.
Voters don’t just want change, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration). They want experience. That came through loud and clear in McCain’s victory, and in Hillary Clinton’s surprise win over Democratic rival Barack Obama. “McCain offers a voice of reason” and a “deep knowledge of foreign affairs,” so it’s good to have him back “in the fray as a credible candidate.”