Editorial: Hagel Will Sell Well In the Heartland
In every presidential primary, Republican or Democrat, each party's dominant wing (right for Republicans, left for Democrats) are courted heavily.
Take the Republicans. Even if the vast majority of Republican voters are not strongly conservative in the Republican primaries, those conservatives are highly prized because they always vote and are passionate enough to get others to vote.
So every Republican who wants to have a chance of victory is talking conservatives' language on social issues and foreign policy in anticipation of next year's primary contests. Even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is trying to convince wary conservatives that his liberal advocacy on issues ranging from abortion to gun control to gay rights is behind him now.
What a relief for supporters of U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) that their man doesn't have to try so hard to convince conservatives that he is one of them. On abortion issues, Hagel has a sterling pro-life record in the U.S. Senate. The same is true on issues involving family values like marriage to a defense of the Second Amendment.
Moreover, Hagel is a strong anti-tax Republican who wants a balanced budget. And as for his stand against some of the strategy leading up to the Iraq war and the blunders caused in it, Hagel always comes in the name of the soldiers themselves--and a more sensible, effective foreign policy to fight terrorism worldwide.
This is the kind of common-sense conservatism that appeals to both the social conservatives and the traditional, anti-tax conservatives in the Republican Party. More importantly for the GOP as it looks for a winner nationally in what will be a very close election in 2008, Hagel's common sense will resonate with the general voting public in both parties.
Rural states similar to Nebraska, like West Virginia, are as much traditional as they are conservative. Their voters want someone who understands rural issues. Given West Virginia's rise to prominence in the electoral college tally in 2000, putting George W. Bush over the top, look for candidates like Hagel to put in some time in states like West Virginia where they have natural common ground.
Hagel can do well nationally, both in the primaries and the general election, in rural states like West Virginia. Hagel's straight-talking yet always-respectful style will be appreciated here.
The American people may be ready for a "Steady Eddie," a fresh face with a solid record of achievement in the U.S. Senate, and a seasoned leader with an intimate understanding of our nation's military, foreign policy, and what makes the private sector hum. If so, the Republicans would be wise to put forward a midwestern statesman this time around for President: U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel.