McCain pays heavy reelection price

By DAVID CATANESE, Politico

John McCain holds a comfortable lead in the contentious Arizona Republican Senate primary, according to the most recent public polling, making him the strong favorite against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth on Tuesday.

But it’s been a costly road to a fifth term for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, and the experience is likely to leave a lasting and unsightly stain on his legacy.

It’s not just the $20 million he’s spent already this election or the scorched earth campaign that he’s run. Rather, it’s the choices he’s made and the positions he’s embraced — and what it reveals about him — that could make for a complicated final chapter in his political biography.

Once the sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — a stance that hurt him with conservatives — McCain moved in a different direction this year. He switched his emphasis this summer to border security, embraced Arizona’s controversial hard-line immigration law and, in an ad, called on the federal government to “complete the danged fence” — three years after dismissing the notion of a border fence in a Vanity Fair article titled “Prisoner of Conscience.”

Four years ago, McCain also told students he supported repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military. But in May, the former war hero and Navy prisoner of war promised to filibuster any bill including that change that landed on the Senate floor.

He sidestepped the climate change debate this year despite once being a Senate leader on the issue and he’s even distanced himself from the term that once seemed central to his political brand — his “maverick” trademark.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41339.html#ixzz0xQhi2s1C

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