THE BIGGER THEY ARE: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican John McCain are considered the front-runners for their parties' presidential nominations in 2008. "They're 800-pound gorillas," says one Democratic consultant.Then again, the AP is just passing along what "one Democratic consultant" wishes would happen.
Unless some seismic shift happens in the GOP base, there is no way that McCain will make it past the primaries.
800-pound gorilla? About 750 pounds of that is an ego that gets stroked regularly by media reports like this.
UPDATE: Howard Fineman also sees McCain as the media candidate:
So here’s the question: Why is this McCain’s Moment? There are lots of reasons. For one — and this is not a new observation — we in the so-called Mainstream Media can’t get enough of the guy. He’s got an inspiring personal story, of course, but that’s only part of it. McCain, quite simply, is good copy. He knows precisely where to stand on which issues to generate publicity. Battered between right and left, the Mainstream Media is drawn to him because he’s unpredictable, because he is alternately and equally critical of both parties, castigating Democrats for standing in the way of Bolton’s nomination one minute and aiming harsh words at Bush political allies the next.You can bet good money that McCain's occasional criticisms of Dems are not the reason that the media are so enamored of him.
Fineman also believes that McCain (with all of that aforementioned ego-stroking he gets) is willing to run as an independent in the almost certain event of his overwhelming rejection in the GOP primaries:
The emerging shape of the 2008 field is another reason for McCain’s Moment. With Dick Cheney not running to succeed Bush, it is wide open, with perhaps eight or nine potential candidates at the starting gate — and McCain is the best known. As for Bush, he has no favorite heir apparent, I’m told — unless his brother decides to run. I am told by GOP insiders that Rove and Bush are taking a hands-off approach to managing this. They certainly are letting their putative favorite, Sen. Bill Frist, twist in the wind. One theory is that Bush and Rove couldn’t abide McCain. I’m not convinced that that’s true. Their overall objective is to have a Republican succeed Bush; even McCain would be better than another wave of Clintons in January 2009 rummaging through the fresh, unshredded records of Bush’s years in the Oval Office.Rush Limbaugh on today's show makes the common-sense observation that the media promotion of McCain can reasonably be interpreted as a ploy to split the Republican vote (as in 1912 and 1992). With that in mind, it's no surprise to see that Democrat leaders have so many kind words for McCain.
But McCain can take it either way. If he can’t get the Dobson-Rove Republicans — if Dr. James Dobson is able to successfully shout “no!” from his mountaintop in Colorado — then McCain could run as an independent. Were he to do so, he would probably siphon more votes from the Republican nominee than the Democrat — good news for any Democratic nominee, but especially for a divisive figure such as Hillary Rodham Clinton. Remember 1992?