On Jan. 11, Crooked Talker John McCain denied he was going to woo Democrats into voting for him in the Michigan GOP primary.
Yesterday, a Power Line reader reported that he received a phone message from Sen. Joe Lieberman urging Democrats to vote in the Republican primary for John McCain.
In a follow-up, the McCain camp denied that the message targeted Democrats. But Scott Johnson points out:
In a message to us last night, the McCain campaign acknowledged that it used a recorded message from Senator Lieberman, but denied that the message was targeted to Democrats or that it expressly invited Democrats to vote in the Republican primary. But that was nevertheless the obvious implication of the message, and Senator Lieberman expressly appealed for Democrats to vote for Senator McCain in the Republican primary during the day yesterday. Senator Lieberman, for example, appealed to Democrats in Ypsilanti to vote for Senator McCain in the Republican primary:
[I]n Ypsilanti, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., joined McCain on the stump and urged independents to vote for his friend.
“This is a tough and close fight here in Michigan here today. But Republicans, and I want to say specifically independents and yes, Democrats……I urge them to come out today and stand for a man who is a great American patriot.”
Senator Lieberman made the same appeal to Democrats in Ann Arbor as well. We invited the McCain campaign to comment on the text of Senator Lieberman’s recorded message as reported above. It has so far declined to do so.
Straight talk, eh?
And so much for McCain’s power to draw a broad coalition to the polls. Turnout among independents and Democrats was down:
Mr. McCain countered with stronger support among independents and Democrats, but they accounted for a far smaller share of the electorate than in 2000. This year, 32 percent of voters here described themselves as independents or Democrats, down from 52 percent in 2000 when Mr. McCain defeated George W. Bush.
Next? Patrick Ruffini looks ahead:
It’s unclear what this means at the end of the day, and if McCain’s national (and South Carolina) momentum now dissipates. There was a great deal of hoopla over Michigan in 2000, with a great deal of talk then about Mac being Back after a bruising South Carolina defeat a few nights before. But it wasn’t to be. South Carolina was what mattered.
Since the media has mythologized South Carolina so, will we back to square one if McCain prevails against an opposition that increasingly looks like the Clampitts? Any two of Huckabee, Romney, and Thompson could easily gang up on McCain to take him out, but they are divided almost evenly, it’s unclear who has real momentum, and Romney had abandoned the state (to get the Michigan win). Will tonight give him enough traction to be the chief conservative rival? Even if it could, I’m not sure Romney wants a direct confrontation with McCain in SC. He has not won on Southern accented ground before, and has done no better than hold his own among Evangelicals, though we did see McCain run well behind with them tonight, so maybe that’s grounds for reconsidering.