Will Alan Keyes Be John McCain's Worst Nightmare?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 02:23:26 PM EST
Alan Keyes, perennial Republican presidential primary contender, popular orator on the Religious Right, and one-time Obama opponent in his race for the Senate from Illinois --  is now the probable presidential nominee for the Constitution Party, which his holding its national convention in Kansas City, Missouri this week. Keyes, who had been considering bolting the Republican Party for at least a year, meeting privately with the CP National Committee on more than one occasion, took the leap last week and announced that he would seek the CP nomination.

The neotheocratic Constitution Party, which has been on the ballot in more than 30 states for every presidential election since 1996, kicked off its national convention in Kansas City yesterday.

The St. Joseph News-Press Gazette reports:  
"You can almost hear a nationwide standing ovation," Jim Clymer, the party's national committee chairman, said. "Ambassador Keyes joins millions of Americans abandoning the party that long ago abandoned them. Keyes had the courage to say what a lot of folks have been thinking for years -- that the Republican Party's leadership is way out of touch with its base."

The paper also reports:

The convention wraps up Saturday with a state roll call to elect a presidential nominee. Alan Keyes, who announced his departure from the Republican Party last week, is seen as the likely Constitution Party nominee.

No other candidate of any prominence has been mentioned as a prospective nominee.

On his campaign web site, Keyes links to an article from World Net Daily titled 8 Reasons I Won't vote for John McCain, which offers a sneak preview of why Keyes in the race will be helping to remind the Religious Right of how what they stand for does not square with the agenda of John McCain.

One of the writer's points is this:

In 2006, McCain was one of only three Republican senators to vote against defining marriage between one man and one woman. Why? McCain said: "I think that gay marriage should be allowed if there's a ceremony kind of thing, if you wanna call it that, I don't have any problem with that." No wonder Dr. James Dobson replied: "Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances."

McCain will be caught in a pander dance between John Hagee and the Christian nationalists of the wider Religious Right on one hand; reassuring moderate Republicans that he and his advisors are not tools of the Religious Right on the other; and he will have Alan Keyes rallying the farther precincts of the Religious Right against him.  

James Dobson has already told The Wall Street Journal:

"I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold," he said in a written statement, reflecting his personal views. "To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away."

That said, it seems unlikely that Dobson or other major Religious Right figures will come out for Keyes (they never have before), although it seems likely that large chunks of the Religious Right will offer only tepid support for McCain, (even out of fear of Clinton or Obama.) And while many rank and file and Religious Right leaders will no doubt make their peace with McCain, others clearly will not -- and Alan Keyes will be there to remind them that they have got good reasons.

In the Pennsylvania Republican primary two days ago, both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul broke into double digits. Many Republicans are obviously not crazy about McCain.

by nogodsnomasters on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 03:10:57 PM EST

I've said this before, but I don't think Keyes as the Constitution Party candidate will gain much traction.  Huckabee and Paul would have been a different matter because both of the, to varying degrees are see as viable politicians.  Keyes is regarded as a fruit loop, even by many who would normally be his political allies.

The senate election campaign really hurt Keyes' credibility--the way he got into the race, his performance during the campaign, and the shockingly bad result all help to label him as a crank and a loser.  Perhaps if he hadn't been through that episode, he might have been able to drum up more support, but I doubt there will be little enthusiasm for Alan Keyes except in the real lunatic fringe, which even in the Republican Party is not terribly large.

I guess if the Constitution Party was to launch an innovative and effective campaign, maybe in the way Ron Paul and Barak Obama have done, they may surprise, but when I've look at their web site and productions in the past, they seem little more than a group of old fuddyduddies arguing about issues most Americans don't care two hoots about (like the "Chinese takeover of the Panama Canal").

It would be entertaining to see Keyes get into a debate or two, but even that's highly unlikely at this point.

by tacitus on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 06:31:55 PM EST

But they have never before had a candidate with sufficient national notoriety and media skills. Paul and Huck were non-starters from the git go. It was always gonna be Keyes.

This weekend we will see some changes in the CP platform and some new directions for the party, at a time of deep dissatisfaction with the GOP in many precincts of the religious right.

And I expect that immigration will be the main issue and rallying point.

I think you are way premature in making prognostications.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 10:36:46 AM EST

Where's the fun in prognosticating once the outcome is no longer much in doubt?  :)

I would be amongst the very first to be delighted to to wrong should the CP surprise and mount a half-way decent campaign.   But I fear the odds of that happening are slim -- perhaps 10% at best -- and not only is it contingent on the CP modernizing and finding a way to be relevant to the current political debate, but Alan Keyes has to find a way to harness his undoubted skills as an orator without alienating potential supporters with his insane views.  While the former may be possible, I find it very hard to believe that the latter is.

by tacitus on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04:24:59 PM EST

I should add, in case it is at all in doubt, that my pleasure at seeing the CP becoming relevant is solely because it lowers the risk of America being saddled with another Republican president.

by tacitus on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04:27:05 PM EST

I might have reported this earlier, but will repeat what Alan Keyes said in Lufkin at a Rick Scarborough sponsored rally. Keys said Obama is an evil person.  He did not say Obama had evil ideas or was influenced by evil people, he said Obama was evil.  

by wilkyjr on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 09:19:48 AM EST
This is my point exactly.  Keyes has no filter with which to temper his words.  While speaking what's really on your mind might be a refreshing change in a normal politician (though it would surely sink him/her) with Keyes it simply allows people to see him for the nutter he really is.

Even amongst those Republicans who secretly agree with him, they seem to balk when those irrational sounding fears are spoken in the public arena.  

by tacitus on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04:31:05 PM EST

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