The unlikely front-runner

John McCain has surged to the front of the Republican presidential field, said John Hawkins in, but the party will be in trouble if it nominates someone so "wildly out of step" with most of its faithful. McCain is the "perfect

What happened

New polls show that John McCain, whose campaign was written off last summer, is now the top choice among Republicans nationally. McCain got a big boost from his victory in New Hampshire’s primary. But the race for the GOP nomination is still up in the air—three quarters of respondents in one poll said it was too early for them to make up their minds “for sure.” (MSNBC)

What the commentators said

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The GOP is “begging” for trouble if it nominates McCain, said John Hawkins in The man is “wildly out of step with the views of the majority” of Republicans. “Amongst grassroots conservatives, John McCain's name is an expletive—and for good reason—because he has made a name for himself by knifing conservatives time and time again for the amusement of his liberal pals in the mainstream media.”

“It seems to make no sense,” said Michael Tomasky in the London Guardian, but it looks like McCain is the GOP’s man. McCain riles up the party’s social conservatives and “radical anti-taxers,” but, thanks to the appeal to independents, he’s “now just a handful of victories away from locking up the Republican nomination.”

“McCain is prevailing because he is the perfect candidate for a dying party,” said Richard Reeves in Yahoo! News. He’ll probably lose in November, and, even if he wins, he’s too old to have a strong shot at a second term. That makes him the “perfect transitional standard for the Republicans as they rebuild and reinvent themselves after November of 2008. He will be as respected as he will be ignored.”

McCain’s newfound popularity is no accident, and nothing to be dismissed, said Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard. He boldly supported President Bush’s decision to send a surge of troops into Iraq, and he suffered when the policy was unpopular. But now that things are looking up in Iraq the gamble is paying off.

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