CBS: Reagan Coalition is ‘Shattered,’ Long Live McCain

On Sunday’s "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer talked to Roger Simon from The Politico about the Republican race and Simon exclaimed that "The old Ronald Reagan coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy conservatives, and social conservatives has shattered." Simon also observed that, "McCain is on his way to proving that he is the least unacceptable Republican...And that even though certain factions of the party may have difficulty with McCain-Feingold or his stand on immigration, he is the most electable Republican in November."

On the topic of McCain’s immigration stance, Schieffer pointed out, "You know, something a lot of people forget that McCain's immigration policy actually plays well in Florida." Simon agreed:

I think that's very important for McCain in Florida. Florida has a large number of Cuban-Americans who vote in Republican primaries. And even though Cubans are not affected by comprehensive immigration reform they have a separate law covering them, they are sympathetic to other Latinos facing the problem of earning their way to citizenship and coming to this country. And they don't view what John McCain did in trying to pass comprehensive immigration reform as selling out the Republican Party. They see it as courageous and John McCain is going to get some benefit from that, I believe.

Finally, Schieffer asked about Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee. Of Thompson, Simon siad this:

I think Fred Thompson entered this race to fill a void, but instead he's fallen into it. I'm not sure he is satisfying any niche in the Republican Party...Where is Fred Thompson's audience? I think as a former national chairman of John McCain's campaign in 2000 they're quite friendly. I think we can expect maybe he will pull out and endorse John McCain at some point.

To review, the Reagan coalition is "shattered," John McCain is the "least unacceptable Republican" and Thompson fell into a "void" and will soon back McCain. Why not just let the media pick the Republican nominee and do away with the primary process?

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

BOB SCHIEFFER: And now a "Campaign Quick Check." And for that we go to Roger Simon of Politico. Good morning, Roger. Glad to have you. What do you think about what you just heard Wolfson and Axelrod talking about there? Do you think that Hillary Clinton is getting close to getting this thing now?

ROGER SIMON: Well, she's certainly a step closer. I think Barack Obama certainly has to win South Carolina. This is a state where 49 to 50% of the Democratic primary voters are African-Americans. It is a built-in constituency for him. He's not going to get every black vote and he can't expect -- and he doesn't expect to get every black vote, but if he doesn't win there, he's in danger of being a one-hit wonder. He won Iowa and that's it. Hillary's won everything else. I think he's got to come back. He's an attractive candidate. And both candidates, as you heard from that exchange, are finding difficulty with the race issue. It got pretty ugly in Nevada. And we don't know how far that's going to continue except I think Democratic voters don't want to hear it. They're going to soon be asking the two party leaders, Obama and Hillary, for a little unity because their -- one of them is going to have to win in November.

SCHIEFFER: Next up, of course, is Florida. But does that really matter for the Democrats since they -- because, you know, the state was penalized for moving its primary up. None of them are campaigning there.

SIMON: Right. This is a Republican contest. And it's a very important Republican contest. Rudy Giuliani has to win Florida. His whole campaign was a sort of mathematical construct that he could lose the first five states, he could go into Florida, win there, win some big states on Super Tuesday like New York and New Jersey and California and then roll on to the nomination. The trouble is he never really pulled out of the first five states. He spent millions of dollars there. Spent some time there. And so now he goes into Florida sort of, you know, 0-5 and it has an effect on how people look at him in Florida. I think more than any other candidate, Florida comes down to where Rudy Giuliani has to finally get a win.

SCHIEFFER: I think McCain had to win South Carolina yesterday, don't you.

SIMON: Absolutely. And McCain is on his way to proving that he is the least unacceptable Republican. All the Republicans have problems with certain factions of their party. The old Ronald Reagan coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy conservatives, and social conservatives has shattered. And McCain is making the point. Look, he is the best-known to the party regulars. He was a maverick eight years ago. But he's an establishment choice now. And that even though certain factions of the party may have difficulty with McCain-Feingold or his stand on immigration, he is the most electable Republican in November. And that is his big pitch.

SCHIEFFER: You know, something a lot of people forget that McCain's immigration policy actually plays well in Florida. It has not played well in some of the other places.

SIMON: I think that's very important for McCain in Florida. Florida has a large number of Cuban-Americans who vote in Republican primaries. And even though Cubans are not affected by comprehensive immigration reform they have a separate law covering them, they are sympathetic to other Latinos facing the problem of earning their way to citizenship and coming to this country. And they don't view what John McCain did in trying to pass comprehensive immigration reform as selling out the Republican Party. They see it as courageous and John McCain is going to get some benefit from that, I believe. But there are some problems for John McCain in Florida. He is going to split some moderate votes with Rudy Giuliani. And the state as a whole is not as moderate as people think. People think it's a bunch of snow birds from the northeast and they've gathered in the southern part of the state and they're moderates but a lot of them are panhandle voters and their conservative Republicans. The second challenge for John McCain is this is a closed primary, this isn't like New Hampshire. Where you can get independents and Democrats. You've got to be a registered Republican. And he has to show his strength with the Republicans.

SCHIEFFER: Just almost out of time. But what about Huckabee, what about Fred Thompson?

SIMON: I think Fred Thompson entered this race to fill a void, but instead he's fallen into it. I'm not sure he is satisfying any niche in the Republican Party. I think if you're a social conservative you might be attracted to Huckabee. If you're a fiscal conservative you might be attracted to Romney. If you're a foreign policy conservative you might be attracted to Rudy Giuliani or John McCain. Where is Fred Thompson's audience? I think as a former national chairman of John McCain's campaign in 2000 they're quite friendly. I think we can expect maybe he will pull out and endorse John McCain at some point.

SCHIEFFER: Alright Roger, thank you very much. Back with our final word in 60 seconds.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC