Robert Novak: "Is McCain a Conservative?" (Confirms Story on McCain and Alito)
Columnist Robert Novak, writing at The Washington Post, backs up John Fund's story that John McCain referred to Samuel Alito as "too conservative":
As John McCain neared his momentous primary election victory in Florida after a ferocious campaign questioning his conservative credentials, right-wingers buzzed over word that he had privately suggested that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was too conservative. In response, McCain said he recalled saying no such thing and added that Alito was a "magnificent" choice. In fact, multiple sources confirm that the senator made negative comments about Alito nine months ago.(emphasis added)
McCain, as the "straight talk" candidate, says things off the cuff that he sometimes cannot remember exactly later. Elements of the Republican Party's right wing, uncomfortable with McCain as their prospective presidential nominee, brought the Alito comments to the surface long after the fact for two contrasting reasons. One was a desperate effort to keep McCain from winning in Florida. The other was to get the party's potential nominee on record about key issues before he is nominated.
That was the background for conservative John Fund's Wall Street Journal online column the day before Florida voted. Fund wrote that McCain "has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito because 'he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.' " In a conference call with bloggers that day, McCain said, "I don't recall a conversation where I would have said that." He was "astonished" by the Alito quote, he said, and he repeatedly says at town meetings, "We're going to have justices like Roberts and Alito."
I found what McCain could not remember: a private, informal chat with conservative Republican lawyers shortly after he announced his candidacy in April 2007. I talked to two lawyers who were present whom I have known for years and who have never misled me. One is neutral in the presidential race, and the other recently endorsed Mitt Romney. Both said they were not Fund's source, and neither knew I was talking to the other. They gave me nearly identical accounts, as follows:
"Wouldn't it be great if you get a chance to name somebody like Roberts and Alito?" one lawyer commented. McCain replied, "Well, certainly Roberts." Jaws were described as dropping. My sources cannot remember exactly what McCain said next, but their recollection is that he described Alito as too conservative.
I think some of those who called into question the veracity of Mr. Fund's account owe him an apology. At least one person commenting here the other day - a prominent Catholic pro-lifer supporting McCain - called Fund's piece "a slime job" that "should be ignored".
Well I'm not ignoring it, especially now that Bob Novak has confirmed the story as true. As for "slime jobs", McCain has become an expert at sliming conservatives over the last 8 years in order to curry favor with liberal Democrats and the MSM. So far, I haven't been convinced that that's about to change.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
McCain: Alito "Too Conservative"
Some Good Posts at Catholics in the Public Square
The Cranky Conservative: Is McCain or Giuliani More Trustworthy on Judges?
Santorum Says McCain Unreliable on Pro-Life Issues
Two Catholic Pro-Life Advocates Endorse John McCain's GOP Presidential Bid
Santorum Attacks McCain's Conservative Credentials
McCain Gets Help from Brownback to Lure Catholics