Marc Ambinder says the Christian Right’s fears about John McCain picking Charlie Crist as a running mate are misplaced. What the movement really ought to worry about, Ambinder says, is McCain picking pro-choice former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge:
I don’t think that McCain will choose Crist…. The possibility that McCain will choose Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania is greater.
The Christian Right would see McCain’s selection of Ridge as a betrayal. One of the few moments in this campaign when McCain actually made social conservatives smile was when he was asked about the possibility of Ridge as running mate on Chris Matthews Hardball:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your Republican party. You’ve been a maverick, and a lot of people like you because of that. I want to ask you how much of a maverick you are. Would you put a person on the ticket with you, like the former governor of this state who is very popular, Tom Ridge, even though he may disagree on the issue of Roe v Wade and abortion rights? Would you put somebody on the ticket like that, on that one issue? Would that stop him?
MCCAIN: I don’t know if it would stop him, but it would be difficult. I just want to say that Tom Ridge is one of the great Americans. He served in the Vietnam War. He served in Congress. He served as a great governor of this state. I am proud to call him my friend.
MATTHEWS: Why that one issue? Why is it that one litmus test issue?
MCCAIN: I’m not saying that would be necessarily, but I am saying it’s basically the respect and cherishing of the right of the unborn is one of the fundamental principles of my party. And it’s a—and it’s a deeply held belief of mine. But I just want to say, again, the admiration and respect and affection that I have for Tom Ridge—he and I came to the Congress together many years ago. And I can’t tell you how much I admire him.
MATTHEWS: A lot of people, senator—I looked at the polls. They have some value, not just who’s going to win, because that’s not always predictable, even with the polls. But a lot of people in Florida, for example, who say that they’re pro-choice Republicans—I don’t even like that phrase, pro-choice. They support the woman’s ultimate right to make the decision. They like you, even though they disagree with you. Explain that.
MCCAIN: The only thing I can say is that in America we can disagree sometimes on specific issues even if they’re of the most important issues. And I want to say that the rights of the unborn is one of my most important values, but we can have disagreement. There is room for debate in our nation and our party. We should have a healthy and respectful discussion and debate on these issues.
I realize you’re going to have to change the culture of America before there’s full respect given to the right of the unborn. I understand that. And I look forward to the debate and discussion and a respectful fashion.