Don't tell Joe Scarborough that John McCain's the stronger Republican candidate because he can attract voters in the middle. The Morning Joe host has depicted McCain as unelectable because of the opposition to him of two key conservative leaders, Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson.
Scarborough's comments during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe were prompted by an article in today's New York Times that included this line [emphasis added]:
Since his victory in the Florida primary, the growing possibility that Mr. McCain may carry the Republican banner in November is causing anguish to the right. Some, including James C. Dobson and Rush Limbaugh, say it is far too late for forgiveness.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: There are a lot of conservatives that I've heard grousing that have said "I would rather a Democrat win then John McCain."
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WILLIE GEIST: That's amazing.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, their feeling is, a failure, another Republican president who goes in there and fails, is devastating. [NB: Scarborough had early clarified that by failure he meant a president with Pres. Bush's poll ratings.] Not only in the short term but also in the long term. Some cynically say: "give us another Clinton and we'll have Congress back in two years." Well, it's the truth!
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, here's the problem though that the Republican party faces now, and that is that [McCain] may be the only one who can win.
SCARBOROUGH: Win what?
BRZEZINSKI: The election?
SCARBOROUGH: Which election?
BRZEZINSKI: How about even the nomination?
SCARBOROUGH: The general election? I think that is highly unlikely when you see people like the most powerful conservatives --
BRZEZINSKI: You think it's unlikely that he'll win the nomination?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I think he can win the nomination; I'm talking about the general election. A Republican [presidential nominee] cannot win -- I see two names at the top of this New York Times article. A Republican president cannot be elected in 2008 if Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson are opposed to him in the way they are.
I hear a lot of liberals attacking James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh. I hear a lot of people who live in New York City attack James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh. I hear a lot of people in Georgetown and West L.A. attacking Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson. But brother, let me tell you something: if you want to be elected anything in the Republican party from dogcatcher to President of the United States, the first two people you want on your side are Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson. John McCain has neither.