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Tuesday, January 08, 2008
A Moment of Humility

Yes, I'm thrilled that my guy won. But boy, this process has taught me a lesson I will never forget. You cannot lead people somewhere they don't want to go.

Senator McCain learned that with the immigration bill. I learned that when I threw my support behind him and found nobody lining up behind me. And the knuckleheads on the radio (Hugh Hewitt and a couple of local yokels named JD Hayworth and Joe Anncarlo) had better start learning it.

I spent most of the day on the road, and being a news junkie I listened to the talk radio stations. It really wasn't that bad during the day when everybody was still upbeat, telling us all about how the latest polls showed the Republican race was a dead heat. I could stand Hewitt telling us how if Mitt came back to win or lose by a point or two he could soldier on. I didn't buy it, but you know, put a happy face on and try not to depress turnout by admitting that your guy's toast.

But after the results were in, even though I wanted to hear the concession speeches I found my self changing channels compulsively as I heard host after host ragging on the New Hampshire voters. "You guys said immigration was the biggest issue, and Mitty changed his position on immigration just to suit you, how could you turn around and support McCain?"

In fact, the classiest thing said all night came from Romney himself, when he called for a round of applause for the senator. It was a deft touch and although there were a few scattered boos, he got most of the folks to clap.

McCain's victory speech was tremendous. I'll find a YouTube clip of it and put it up as soon as possible. It was soaring and moving and contained not a bitter word for anybody. I only pray that he's giving a speech like that the last night of the convention.

And then, of course, the knuckleheads got back on the air and started panning it. Look, I've been interested in politics since 1968, and I've seen what happens many times. I feel like I've got my finger on the pulse of the body politic. In 1996, Steve Forbes, who I supported, carpet-bombed my home state of Arizona with negative ads about Bob Dole. It worked; Forbes won the state, one of his only victories.

But come time for the general election it boomeranged. Arizona had voted Republican in every election since 1952, making it the only state with that distinction. But in 1996, with GOP turnout depressed by the negative ads from months earlier, Bill Clinton took my home state.

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